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|Comments on IDNR Frac Rules|
comments were submitted online to Illinois DNR Rule on Hydraulic Fracturing –
January 1, 2014. Approved by WUC and
drafted by the Source Water Committee
The rule adds a new definition (b) for "Medium Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing Operations”. The new definition redefines any High Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing Operation that uses 300,000 gallons or less total volume of fracturing fluid as medium volume, which exempts them from all of the regulations and all of the rules except providing location and well construction information required in Subpart L. Such wells would only have been exempt under the regulation if they used 4 or fewer stages, each using75,000 gallons per stage. Compared to the 3-5 million gallons of fluid usually cited for high volume fracturing the amount is relatively small. The presence of old, improperly plugged wells could be a concern.
Section 245.110 Definitions
The definition for "Aquifer" should be modified as follows:
Delete the reference to "as major sand and gravel aquifers" as the map that is referenced included sand, gravel and bedrock aquifers. We believe that this will strengthen the regulations and be more inclusive.
The definition for "Fresh Water" should be modified as follows:
Insert "with disinfection" after "drinking water for human consumption"
Delete "and" and after municipal and insert "or" in its place
With this modification the rules would be more protective. The "and" in the definition would typically be read to mean that all of the criteria must be met. However, there is a no surface water in the state that can be consumed by humans (safely) without treatment for bacteria at a minimum. "Fresh water" should not go unprotected simply because one use could not be met "in its natural state".
Section 245.270 Public Hearings
The rules seem to add a large amount of detail and significant requirements for anyone requesting a public hearing on a high volume fracturing permit. Depending upon how strictly a petitioner's submittal documents are judged, with regard to addressing the requirements, requesting a hearing is (under these rules) probably beyond the abilities of most people who do not deal with regulations and rules on a regular basis.
One addition that should be made somewhere in this Section is the requirement that the Department's Permittee's and Hearing Officer's US mail and e-mail address be provided to people who may potentially request a hearing. All three of these individuals must be copied on any hearing request, however it is not clear how a hearing officer's name or contact information would be known, since presumable no hearing officer would exist prior to a hearing being requested.
We have been unable to find a place in the regulations or rules that requires a permittee's e-mail address to be provided. Considering the requirements of Section 245.270, e-mail, with electronic attachments would appear to be the least costly way to submit a hearing request.
Section 245.510 Well Drilling, Storage and Disposal of Well Drilling Waste
The Subsection (d) refers to rules under the Oil and Gas Act. The referenced Section 62 IAC 240.540(a) allows the onsite disposal of drilling fluid waste. "drilling fluid waste" does not appear to be defined in the Oil and Gas Act, 62 IAC 240, or in this proposed IAC 62 IAC 245. Therefore, it would be quite difficult to regulate. further, 240.540(a) allows the annular disposal of drilling fluid waste, however annular disposal of fracturing fluid is prohibited by the Hydraulic Fracturing Act. Depending on definitions, this may not be a direct conflict, but certainly does not mirror the spirit of the Act.
Section 245.540 Establishment of Internal Mechanical Integrity Testing
Section 240.540(b) allows for the use of fresh water or brine for pressure testing surface casing and intermediate casing. Brine would probably be ok for intermediate casing, since surface casing is supposed to extend all the way through any fresh water. However, testing surface casing with brine invites a release to fresh groundwater or surface water should the casing test fail.
Section 245.810 Surface Equipment Pressure Testing
Section 240.810(b) allows the use of fresh water or brine for pressure testing surface equipment. However Pressure testing surface equipment with brine invites a release to fresh surface water or land should the equipment test fail.
Sections 245.825 General Fluid Storage and 245.830 Reserve Pits
There is a cross reference to 245.830 and a correlation regarding reserve pit use and the construction requirements for reserve pits that make discussion together more meaningful. Section 245.825 does not provide any specifications for the volume of tanks that must be assembled on-site for fracking fluid and produced water flow-back, however Section 245.830 does specify that for reserve pits. Under the Act reserve pits are only supposed to be used in the event of an emergency when more fluid than anticipated flows back, Section 245.830 specifies that the reserve pit should be able to contain 110% of the anticipated flow-back. If the volume of anticipated flow-back can be calculated for the reserve pit size, it seems logical to have a similar requirement for the volume of tanks needed, since the Act requires containment in tanks except under emergency conditions. Protection of water resources is further threatened since secondary containment is required to be 150% of only the largest single container. The only Act only requires 110% of the largest single tank, so the rule is a slight improvement, but literature indicates that 40-60% of fracking fluid injected is returned, with the possible addition of some produced water. Since the smallest regulated fracking job would be 300,000 gallons and the largest fixed axle container is about 20,000 gallons, 30,000 gallons of containment would be required while 150,000 gallons of return flow would be expected. A failure could result in a very large release.
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