ADEQ Seeks to Protect Environment Through Regulation

by Teresa Marks  on Monday, Aug. 27, 2007 12:00 am  

The mission of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is to protect, enhance and restore the natural environment for the well-being of all Arkansans.

Wastewater from drilling operations must not be discharged into the state's waters or onto land in any manner that may result in runoff to the state's waters.

Currently, the storage, disposal and closure of activities associated with fluids resulting from gas well-drilling operations are handled through reserve pit authorizations and individual land application permits. The ADEQ determined that general permits for these activities would best serve the interests of applicants and regulatory agencies alike, streamlining the permitting process and allowing the ADEQ to ensure that environmental protection would be maintained.

General permits are designed to cover a class of similar facilities or industries. When a general permit is issued, all facilities meeting its requirements are eligible for coverage. To be covered under the general permit, a facility must submit a notice of intent and supporting documentation. The ADEQ reviews the documents, and if they are in compliance with the terms of the general permit, a determination of coverage will be issued.

General Permit 00000-WG-P deals with the construction, operation and closure of pits in Arkansas associated with oil and gas exploration, drilling, completion, production and recompletion activities. The general permit will authorize qualifying operators to construct and operate pits for the temporary storage of drilling muds and fluids encountered during the drilling of oil and gas wells. The pits are to be closed after the wells have been drilled and are not to be used for storing frac water, completion fluids or other oilfield wastes. Conditions for mud pits, circulation pits, workover pits and emergency pits also are included in the general permit.

General Permit 00000-WG-LA concerns disposing of fluids generated, encountered or used during oil and gas well-drilling operations. The permit will authorize qualifying oil and gas well operators and associated facilities in Arkansas to land-apply water-based drilling fluids from one reserve pit at a nearby site under the terms and conditions of the general permit. Fluids are to be analyzed for specific parameters prior to approval for land application. Each specific land application site will be authorized for only one application of fluids, and the application process must not allow fluids to enter state waters as defined by Arkansas statutes.

Violating any condition of a general permit constitutes violating the Arkansas Water & Air Pollution Control Act and subjects the operator to the penalties specified therein. All permits contain conditions and prohibitions in accordance with the Arkansas Pollution Control & Ecology Commission's Regulation No. 1, Regulation No. 2 and the Arkansas Water & Air Pollution Control Act.

Drilling wells for oil and gas production in Arkansas involves several state and federal agencies. The Arkansas Oil & Gas Commission regulates the drilling and production of oil and natural gas. The ADEQ regulates the construction, operation, maintenance and closure of pits, disposal of drilling mud and unauthorized discharge under the authority of the Arkansas Water & Air Pollution Control Act (Act 472 of 1949, as amended, Ark. Code Ann. ¤ 8-4-101, et seq.). The Arkansas Department of Health is responsible for protecting drinking water in wellhead protection areas or other sensitive areas where pits might be located.

The discharge of pollutants into state waters from all oil and gas exploration and production is prohibited under the authority of 40 CFR ¤ 435.32 and the Water & Air Pollution Control Act (Act 472 of 1949, as amended, A.C.A. ¤ 8-4-101) and Regulation No. 1 (Regulation for the Prevention of Pollution by Salt Water & Other Oil Field Wastes Produced by Wells in All Fields or Pools).

For more information on the various regulations, the Water Division or the ADEQ as a whole, visit the ADEQ online at or contact the public outreach and assistance division at (501) 682-0923.

(Teresa Marks is director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.)



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