State Regulations: Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) Office of Oil and Gas Management (Office of Mineral Resource Management) is responsible for the statewide oil and gas conservation and environmental programs to facilitate the safe exploration, development, and recovery of Pennsylvania's oil and gas reservoirs in a manner that will protect the Commonwealth's natural resources and the environment.
General environmental protection regulations governing waste management and wastewater in the context of oil and gas operations are also administered by PADEP's Office of Oil and Gas Management. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 3, through its Safe Drinking Water Branch, administers underground injection control (UIC) programs in Pennsylvania in direct implementation.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Office of Oil and Gas Management
Rachel Carson State Office Building
P.O. Box 8765
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8765
(717) 772-2199 (phone)
(717) 772-2291 (fax)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 3 Regional Office
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
(215) 814-5700 (phone)
Disposal Practices and Applicable Regulations
The disposal regulations in connection with oil and gas operations are found in the Pennsylvania Code (PA Code), Title 25 (Environmental Protection), Part 1 (Department of Environmental Protection), Subpart C (Protection of Natural Resources), Article I (Land Resources), Chapter 78 (Oil and Gas Wells). The Mid-Atlantic States Regional Office of the EPA (Region 3), through its Safe Drinking Water Branch, manages and implements the Region's underground injection control (UIC) programs. This includes the direct implementation of the UIC program in Pennsylvania.
- Control and Disposal Plan (§ 78.55). Prior to generation of waste, the operator shall prepare and implement a plan for control and disposal of drilling wastes.
- Discharge Requirements (§ 78.60). A substance may not be discharged to the waters of the Commonwealth unless in compliance with all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. Tophole water or water in a pit as a result of precipitation may be discharged to the land surface if drilling muds or drilling fluids are not present in that water.
- Pit Disposal and Land Application. The disposal regulations distinguish between management requirements for disposal methods governing uncontaminated drill cuttings and disposal methods governing residual wastes, including contaminated drill cuttings. The principal disposal methods include pit disposal and land application.
- Pit Disposal of Uncontaminated Drill Cuttings from above the Casing Seat (§ 78.61 (a)).
- Land Application of Drill Cuttings from above the Casing Seat (§ 78.61 (b)).
- Pit Disposal of Uncontaminated Drill Cuttings from below the Casing Seat (§ 78.61 (c)(1)).
- Land Application Disposal of Uncontaminated Drill Cuttings from below the Casing Seat (§ 78.61 (c)(2)).
- Pit Disposal of Residual Waste (§ 78.62).
- Land Application of Residual Waste (§ 78.63).
- Annular disposal of drill cuttings would have to be approved by the EPA Region 3 and also by the state. (Approval from the EPA would likely require that annular disposal operations occur (1) on a one-time basis; (2) between the long string casing and borehole; (3) below underground sources of drinking water; and (4) below fracture pressure.)