comments were submitted online to Illinois DNR Rule on Hydraulic Fracturing –
January 1, 2014. Approved by WUC and
drafted by the Source Water Committee
in response to the Section 245.100(b)
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
The definition for "Aquifer" should be modified as
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
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.