ABSTRACT: Land Discharge Alternatives for Energy Exploration and Production Wastes in California
WALKER, SCOTT, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, Sacramento, CA
Energy exploration and production waste discharge to land in California is regulated under California Code of Regulations, Title 23, Division 3, Chapter 15. Chapter 15 regulations are implemented by the Regional Water Quality Control Boards through issuance of waste discharge requirements (WDRs). The goal of Chapter 15 is to ensure protection of beneficial uses of waters of the state in the siting, operation, and closure of waste treatment, storage, and disposal sites. Potential energy waste disposal activities exempt from Chapter 15 under Article 1 include discharge of wastes by underground injection, beneficial use as soil amendment, containment in on-site sumps, and recycling. Waste discharge to land activities exempt from Chapter 15 may require non-Chapter 15 WDRs under broader au hority of the Regional Water Boards. Articles 2 through 9 of Chapter 15 apply to waste classification, waste management unit classification and siting, construction standards, water quality monitoring, closure and post-closure maintenance, and compliance procedures. Potential Chapter 15 management alternatives for classified energy wastes include class I or class II landfill disposal and surface impoundment liquid evaporation, and class II land treatment. Land discharge facilities for energy wastes for the Central Valley Regional Board includes the oil and gas fields of the Sacramento and San Joaquin basins and major geothermal areas of the Coast Ranges. Expensive remedial action and litigation associated with many of the inactive facilities that have impacted water quality illustrate th importance of managing these wastes properly.