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The Pennsylvania Code website reflects the Pennsylvania Code changes effective through 53 Pa.B. 5486 (August 26, 2023).

25 Pa. Code § 78a.55. Control and disposal planning; emergency response for unconventional wells.

§ 78a.55. Control and disposal planning; emergency response for unconventional wells.

 (a)  Preparation and implementation of plan for oil and gas operations. Persons conducting oil and gas operations shall prepare and implement site-specific PPC plans according to § §  91.34 and 102.5(l) (relating to activities utilizing pollutants; and permit requirements).

 (b)  Preparation and implementation of plan for well sites. In addition to the requirements in subsection (a), the well operator shall prepare and develop a site-specific PPC plan prior to storing, using, or generating regulated substances on a well site from the drilling, alteration, production, plugging or other activity associated with a gas well or transporting those regulated substances to, on or from a well site.

 (c)  Containment practices. The well operator’s PPC plan must describe the containment practices to be utilized and the area of the well site where primary and secondary containment will be employed as required under §  78a.64a (relating to secondary containment). The PPC plan must include a description of the equipment to be kept onsite during drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations that can be utilized to prevent a spill from leaving the well site.

 (d)  Requirements. The well operator’s PPC plan must also identify the control and disposal methods and practices utilized by the well operator and be consistent with the act, The Clean Streams Law (35 P.S. § §  691.1—691.1001), the Solid Waste Management Act (35 P.S. § §  6018.101—6018.1003) and § §  78a.54, 78a.56—78a.58 and 78a.60—78a.61. The PPC plan must also include a pressure barrier policy developed by the operator that identifies barriers to be used during identified operations.

 (e)  Revisions. The well operator shall revise the PPC plan prior to implementing a change to the practices identified in the PPC plan.

 (f)  Copies. A copy of the well operator’s PPC plan shall be provided to the Department, the Fish and Boat Commission or the landowner upon request and shall be available at the site during drilling and completion activities for review.

 (g)  Guidelines. With the exception of the pressure barrier policy required under subsection (d), a PPC plan developed in conformance with the Guidelines for the Development and Implementation of Environmental Emergency Response Plans, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Protection, No. 400-2200-001, as amended and updated, will be deemed to meet the requirements of this section.

 (h)  Emergency contacts. A list of emergency contact phone numbers for the area in which the well site is located must be included in the PPC plan and be prominently displayed at the well site during drilling, completion or alteration activities.

 (i)  Emergency response for unconventional well sites.

   (1)  Applicability. This subsection applies to unconventional wells.

   (2)  Definitions. For the purposes of this subsection, the following definitions apply:

   Access road—A road connecting a well site to the nearest public road, private named road, administrative road with a name and address range, or private unnamed road with an address range.

   Address—A location, by reference to a road or a landmark, made by a county or municipality responsible for assigning addresses within its jurisdiction.

   Administrative road—A road owned and maintained by the Commonwealth open to the public at the discretion of the Commonwealth that may or may not have a name and address range.

   Emergency responder—Police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, emergency management personnel, public health personnel, State certified hazardous materials response teams, Department emergency personnel and other personnel authorized in the course of their occupations or duties, or as an authorized volunteer, to respond to an emergency.

   Entrance—The point where the access road to a well site connects to the nearest public road, private named road, administrative road with a name and address range, or a private unnamed road with an address range.

   GPS coordinates—The coordinates in latitude and longitude as expressed in degrees decimal to at least six digits after the decimal point based upon the World Geodetic System 1984 Datum or any other datum approved by the Department.

   PEMA—The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

   Private named road—A private road with a name and address range.

   Private road—A road that is not a public road.

   Private unnamed road—A private road that is not a private named road.

   Public road—A road owned and maintained by the Commonwealth, a county within this Commonwealth, a municipality within the Commonwealth or any combination thereof that is open to the public.

   Public safety answering point—An entity operating in cooperation with local municipalities and counties to receive 9-1-1 calls for a defined geographic area and process calls according to a specific operational policy.

   Well site name—The name used to designate the well site by the operator on the well permit application submitted to the Department.

   (3)  Registration of addresses.

     (i)   Prior to construction of an access road to a well site, the operator of an unconventional well shall request a street address for the well site from the county or municipality responsible for assigning street addresses.

     (ii)   The operator shall determine the GPS coordinates for both the well site and the entrance to the well site. The GPS coordinates must have a horizontal accuracy of plus or minus 6.67 feet or better. If there is more than one well on a well site, one set of GPS coordinates must be used for the well site.

     (iii)   The operator shall register the following with PEMA, the Department, the Public Safety Answering Point and the county emergency management organization within the county where the well site is located:

       (A)   The well site name.

       (B)   The well site address.

       (C)   The GPS coordinates for the entrance and the well site.

     (iv)   When there is a change of well site address, the operator shall register the new address as provided in subparagraph (iii).

     (v)   When there is a change of the entrance due to a change in the well site address or otherwise, the operator shall register the GPS coordinates for the entrance as provided in subparagraph (iii).

     (vi)   The following shall be retained at the well site for reference when contacting emergency responders:

       (A)   The well site name.

       (B)   The well site address.

       (C)   The GPS coordinates for the entrance and the well site.

   (4)  Signage.

     (i)   Prior to construction of the access road, the operator of an unconventional well shall display a reflective sign at the entrance.

     (ii)   The sign must meet the following requirements:

       (A)   The sign must be fabricated with approved retroreflective sheeting material meeting ASTM 4956 Type III.

       (B)   The sign must have a white background with a 2-inch red border and black numbers and letters. Signs for entrances on administrative roads may use other colors provided that the signs use contrasting colors between the background, border, numbers and letters.

       (C)   The sign must be of sufficient size to accommodate the required information described in this section. The minimum size of a sign must be 36 inches in height and 48 inches in width.

       (D)   The sign must follow the format of Figure 1 and contain:

         (I)   The address number for the well site displayed horizontally on the first line of the sign in text no smaller than 4 inches in height.

         (II)   The full address of the entrance, including the county and municipality in which the entrance is located.

         (III)   The well operator’s company name.

         (IV)   The 24-hour contact telephone information for the operator of the well site.

         (V)   The GPS coordinates for the entrance.

         (VI)   The well site name.

         (VII)   The wording ‘‘In Case of Emergency Call 9-1-1.’’

     (iii)   The sign must be mounted independently from other signage.

     (iv)   The bottom of the sign must be positioned a minimum of 3 feet above ground level.

     (v)   The sign may not contain other markings.

     (vi)   A sign, as viewed from the applicable road, may not be obstructed from view by vegetation, equipment, vehicles or other obstruction.

     (vii)   During drilling operations, the American Petroleum Institute (API) permit numbers of the wells at the site may be posted on a nonreflective sign below the principal sign. The API sign may be removed after the well is completed, provided that it is not otherwise required to be posted.

Figure 1. Sample Site Entrance Signage


Sample Site Entrance Signage

(Not to scale)

   (5)  Emergency response planning.

     (i)   The operator of an unconventional well shall develop and implement an emergency response plan that provides for equipment, procedures, training and documentation to properly respond to emergencies that threaten human health and safety for each well site. The plan must incorporate National Incident Management System planning standards, including the use of the Incident Command System, Incident Action Planning and Common Communications Plans. The plan must include:

       (A)   The emergency contact information, including phone numbers, for the well operator’s local representative for the well site and the well operator’s 24-hour emergency phone number.

       (B)   The emergency notification procedures that the operator shall utilize to contact emergency responders during an emergency.

       (C)   A description of the well site personnel’s response to the following well site emergencies:

         (I)   Fire.

         (II)   Medical emergency.

         (III)   Explosion or similar event.

         (IV)   Spill.

         (V)   Security breach or other security event.

         (VI)   Any other incident that necessitates the presence of emergency responders.

       (D)   A description of the procedure to be used to provide the most current information to emergency responders in the event of an emergency, including the following:

         (I)   The current Safety Data Sheet (SDS) required under law to be present at the well site.

         (II)   The location of the SDSs at the well site.

         (III)   The name of the position in the operator’s organization responsible for providing the information in subclauses (I) and (II).

       (E)   A list containing the location of any fire suppression and spill control equipment maintained by the well operator at the well site.

       (F)   A description of any emergency equipment available to the operator that is located off of the well site.

       (G)   A summary of the risks and hazards to the public within 1/2 mile of the well site and the associated planning assumptions.

       (H)   An outline of the emergency response training plan that the operator has established.

       (I)   The location of and monitoring plan for any emergency shutoff valves located along well development pipelines in accordance with §  78a.68b (relating to well development pipelines for oil and gas operations).

     (ii)   The emergency response plan in subparagraph (i) may consist of two parts:

       (A)   A base plan common to all of the operator’s well sites containing some of the elements described in subparagraph (i).

       (B)   A site-specific plan containing the remaining elements described in subparagraph (i).

     (iii)   The operator shall submit a copy of the current emergency response plan for that well site unless the permit provides otherwise. For plans using the approach in subparagraph (ii), the operator may submit one base plan provided that the site-specific plans are submitted for each well site.

     (iv)   The operator shall review the plan and submit an update annually on or before March 1 each year. In the event that updates are not made to the plan for that review period, the operator shall submit a statement indicating the review was completed and updates to the plan were not necessary.

     (v)   The plan and subsequent updates shall be submitted to:

       (A)   PEMA.

       (B)   The Department.

       (C)   The county emergency management agency.

       (D)   The Public Safety Answering Point with jurisdiction over the well site.

     (vi)   A copy of the plan shall be available at the well site during all phases of operation.

     (vii)   The emergency response plan must address response actions for the following stages of operation at the well site:

       (A)   Preparation of the access road and well site.

       (B)   Drilling of the well.

       (C)   Hydraulic fracturing and stimulation of the well.

       (D)   Production.

       (E)   Well site restoration.

       (F)   Plugging of the well.

     (viii)   The requirements in subparagraphs (i)—(vii) may be met by implementing guidance issued by the Department in coordination with PEMA.

   (6)  Transition.

     (i)   This subsection is effective January 26, 2013, except as provided in subparagraph (ii).

     (ii)   For a well site containing a well that is being drilled or has been drilled as of January 26, 2013, or a well site for which a well permit has been issued but wells have not started drilling as of January 26, 2013, or a well site for which an administratively complete application is pending as of January 26, 2013, as provided in subparagraph (i), the following applies:

       (A)   Paragraph (3) is effective on February 25, 2013.

       (B)   Paragraph (4) is effective on July 25, 2013.

       (C)   Paragraph (5) is effective on April 26, 2013.

Cross References

   This section cited in 25 Pa. Code §  78a.15 (relating to application requirements); 25 Pa. Code §  78a.54 (relating to general requirements); and 25 Pa. Code §  78a.72 (relating to use of safety devices—blow-out prevention equipment).

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