§ 78a.65. Site restoration.
(a) Restoration. The owner or operator shall restore land surface areas disturbed to construct the well site as follows:
(1) Post-drilling. Within 9 months after completion of drilling a well, the owner or operator shall undertake post-drilling restoration of the well site in accordance with a restoration plan developed in accordance with subsection (b) and remove all drilling supplies, equipment, primary containment and secondary containment not necessary for production or needed to safely operate the well.
(i) When multiple wells are drilled or permitted to be drilled on a single well site, post-drilling restoration is required within 9 months after completion of drilling all permitted wells on the well site or 9 months after the expiration of all existing well permits on the well site, whichever is later.
(ii) A drill hole or bore hole used to facilitate the drilling of a well shall be filled with cement, soil, uncontaminated drill cuttings or other earthen material before moving the drilling equipment from the well site.
(iii) Drilling supplies and equipment not needed for production may only be stored on the well site if express written consent of the surface landowner is obtained and the supplies or equipment are maintained in accordance with § 78a.64a (relating to secondary containment).
(iv) The areas necessary to safely operate the well include the following:
(A) Areas used for service vehicle and rig access.
(B) Areas used for storage tanks and secondary containment.
(C) Areas used for wellheads and appurtenant oil and gas processing facilities.
(D) Areas used for any necessary safety buffer limited to the area surrounding equipment that is physically cordoned off to protect the facilities.
(E) Areas used to store any supplies or equipment consented to by the surface landowner.
(F) Areas used for operation and maintenance of long-term PCSM best management practices.
(2) Post-plugging. Within 9 months after plugging the final well on the well site, the owner or operator shall remove all production or storage facilities, supplies and equipment and restore the well site to approximate original conditions and restore stormwater runoff rate, volume and quality to preconstruction condition in accordance with § 102.8 (relating to PCSM requirements).
(3) Wells not drilled. If a well site is constructed and the well is not drilled, the well site shall be restored within 9 months after the expiration of the well permit unless the Department approves an extension for reasons of adverse weather or lack of essential fuel, equipment or labor.
(b) Restoration plan. An operator of a well site shall develop and implement a restoration plan. The restoration plan must address:
(1) The restoration of areas not needed to safely operate the well to approximate original conditions.
(2) The proposed site configuration after post-drilling restoration including the areas of the well site being restored.
(3) The minimization of impervious areas. Impervious areas include, but are not limited to, areas where soil has been compacted, areas where soil has been treated with amendments to firm or harden the soil, and areas underlain with an impermeable liner.
(4) The removal of all drilling supplies and equipment not needed for production, including primary and secondary containment.
(5) The manner in which the restoration of the disturbed areas will achieve meadow in good condition or better or otherwise incorporate ABACT or nondischarge alternative PCSM best management practices (BMP).
(6) PCSM BMPs remaining in place and proof of compliance with § 102.8(l) and (m), or a licensed professional certification of complete site restoration to approximate original contours and return to preconstruction stormwater runoff rate, volume and quality in accordance with § 102.8(g). The owner or operator shall remain responsible for compliance with the terms of the restoration plan including long-term operation and maintenance of all PCSM BMPs on the project site and is responsible for any violations occurring on the project site, prior to written approval of the final restoration report.
(7) The permanent stabilization of the restored areas by either of the following:
(i) In accordance with § 102.22 (relating to site stabilization).
(ii) Through implementation of PCSM BMPs as required under § 102.8, including § 102.8(a)(m).
(8) An operator of a well site who is required to obtain a permit under § 102.5(c) (relating to permit requirements) may develop a written restoration plan containing drawings and a narrative that address the requirements of paragraphs (1)(7) to demonstrate compliance with § 102.8(n).
(c) Extension of drilling or production period. The restoration period in this subsection may be extended through approval by the Department for an additional period of time, not to exceed 2 years.
(1) A request to extend the restoration period shall be submitted electronically on forms provided by the Department through the Departments web site not more than 6 months after the completion of drilling.
(2) The request must specify the reasons for the request to extend the restoration period not to exceed 24 months. The request must include a justification for the length of extension and demonstrate that either:
(i) The extension will result in less earth disturbance, increased water reuse or more efficient development of the resources.
(ii) Restoration cannot be achieved due to adverse weather conditions or a lack of essential fuel, equipment or labor.
(3) A demonstration that the extension will result in less earth disturbance, increased water reuse or more efficient development of the resources must include the following:
(i) A demonstration that the site is stabilized and the BMPs utilized on the well site will address PCSM.
(ii) A demonstration that the portions of the well site not occupied by production facilities or equipment will be returned to approximate original conditions.
(d) Areas not restored. Disturbed areas associated with well sites that are not included in a restoration plan, and other remaining impervious surfaces, must comply with all requirements in Chapter 102 (relating to erosion and sediment control). The PCSM plan provisions in § 102.8(n) apply only to the portions of the restoration plan that provide for restoration of disturbed areas to meadow in good condition or better or otherwise incorporate ABACT or nondischarge PCSM BMPs.
(e) Post-drilling restoration reports. Within 60 calendar days after post-drilling restoration under subsection (a)(1), the operator shall submit a restoration report to the Department. The well operator shall forward a copy of all restoration reports to the surface landowner. The report shall be made electronically on forms provided by the Department through the Departments web site and must identify the following:
(1) The date of land application of the tophole water.
(2) The results of pH and specific conductance tests and an estimated volume of discharge.
(3) The method used for disposal or reuse of the free liquid fraction of the waste, and the name of the hauler and disposal facility, if any.
(4) The location, including GPS coordinates, of the pit in relation to the well, the depth of the pit, the type and thickness of the material used for the pit subbase, the type and thickness of the pit liner, the type and nature of the waste, the type of any approved solidifier, a description of the pit closure procedures used and the pit dimensions.
(5) The location of the area used for land application of the waste, and the results of a chemical analysis of the waste soil mixture if requested by the Department.
(6) The types and volumes of waste produced and the name and address of the waste disposal facility and waste hauler used to dispose of the waste.
(7) The name, qualifications and basis for determination that the bottom of a pit used for encapsulation is at least 20 inches above the seasonal high groundwater table.
(f) Post-plugging restoration reports. Within 60 calendar days after post-plugging restoration under subsection (a)(2), the operator shall submit a restoration report to the Department. The well operator shall forward a copy of all restoration reports to the surface landowner. The report shall be made electronically on forms provided by the Department through the Departments web site and must include the following:
(1) A description of the types and volumes of waste produced, and the name and address of the waste disposal facility and waste hauler used to dispose of the waste.
(2) Confirmation that earth disturbance activities, site restoration including an installation of any PCSM BMPs and permanent stabilization in accordance with § 102.22 have been completed.
(g) Written consent. Written consent of the landowner on forms provided by the Department satisfies the restoration requirements of this section provided the operator develops and implements a site restoration plan that complies with subsections (a) and (b)(2)(7) and all PCSM requirements in Chapter 102.
This section cited in 25 Pa. Code § 78a.1 (relating to definitions); 25 Pa. Code § 78a.59b (relating to well development impoundments); 25 Pa. Code § 78a.60 (relating to discharge requirements); 25 Pa. Code § 78a.67 (relating to borrow pits); and 25 Pa. Code § 78a.68b (relating to well development pipelines for oil and gas operations).
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