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Underground Injection Success Stories

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The objective of the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program is to protect underground sources of drinking water from contamination. During the course of our inspections, or through complaints, we identify wells that do not comply with operating requirements or have a potential to endanger underground sources of drinking water because of the fluids they handle. Below are just two of the many cases we have had. The closure of shallow motor vehicle waste and other types of industrial waste disposal wells are our highest priority to identify and close, in order to protect underground sources of drinking water.

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Devon Gulf Service Center

During a routine UIC inspection at the Devon Gulf service station in 1994, the inspector identified a service bay floor drain which reportedly discharged to a dry well. Upon further investigation EPA learned that both automotive wastewater and storm water discharged into a cylindrical subsurface structure located in the rear of the parking lot. The structure consisted of circular rows (about 10' in diameter) of cinder blocks, loosely spaced to allow fluids to percolate into the ground. When viewed from the open manhole, the dry well was observed to be completely filled with an oily liquid. On-site monitoring wells indicated the presence of automotive contaminants in the ground water.

The UIC program subsequently issued an Administrative Order to Cumberland Farms, who owns Gulf Oil service stations in the eastern United States. The Order required Cumberland Farms to immediately cease discharge to the dry well and properly pump out and remove the structure and surrounding soil. In addition, the company agreed to pay a penalty and to inventory other facilities it operates with Class V injection wells. The inventory identified several other Gulf service stations with endangering injection wells. As was the case with Devon Gulf, the endangering wells were closed and remediated in accordance with EPA standards.

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Bryner Lease, Lafayette Township, McKean County, PA

The National Forest Service notified the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) that it had measured elevated conductivity readings from stream samples while conducting a survey of a tributary to Lewis Run. In response, PA DEP conducted an inspection of the area and identified several seeps from a hillside which were running into the stream. The seeps were located approximately 1000 feet down-gradient from a Class II enhanced recovery project regulated by the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program.

The PA DEP notified UIC program staff and a joint inspection was conducted of the seeps and Class II facility. Samples collected from the seeps identified elevated levels of chlorides, total dissolved solids and specific conductivity. Inspection of the lease identified one Class II injection well which was being operated without mechanical integrity. Also, one production well had been abandoned and was not identified properly in the permit application for the facility.

EPA concluded that the operation of the injection well without mechanical integrity, in close proximity to the improperly abandoned production well, allowed the movement of fluid containing contaminants into an underground source of drinking water. An Administrative Complaint, with a Civil Penalty and Compliance Order, was issued to the operator. As a result of the order, the injection well without mechanical integrity and the abandoned production well were properly plugged and abandoned. Monitoring data from the seeps into the tributary of Lewis Run Creek indicated a significant reduction in the concentration of chlorides, conductivity and total dissolved solids immediately after the two wells were plugged and abandoned. Subsequent sampling results have shown a continual decline after several years.

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