The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting public comments on its proposal to renew a federal Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class I Non-hazardous Permit for Panoche Energy Center (PEC). The Permit would authorize PEC to continue operating four (4) Existing Wells, known as IW1, IW2, IW3 and IW4, and construct and operate two Potential Wells, IW5 and IW6 once all permit conditions pertaining to the wells have been met. In addition, the Permit would require PEC to install a monitoring well to assure protection of underground sources of drinking water (USDWs). The facility is located approximately 16 miles south-southwest of the City of Firebaugh and approximately two miles east of Interstate 5, adjacent to the Pacific Gas & Electric's Panoche Substation in Fresno County, California.
Fluids disposed by injection at the facility consist of cooling tower blowdown water, reverse osmosis system reject water, evaporative cooler blowdown water, combustion turbine intercooler condensate, enhanced wastewater water, and oil/water separator discharge water associated with operations of a simple cycle power generation plant that consists of four natural gas-fired combustion turbine generators. If issued, this Permit would authorize injection by Existing Wells IW1, IW2, IW3, IW4 and Potential Wells IW5 and IW6 to dispose of these wastewaters into the Panoche Formation at depths ranging between approximately 7,199 to 8,897 feet below ground surface. The Panoche Formation at the location of the wells has greater than 10,000 mg/L total dissolved solids and is confined above by the approximately 1,148-foot-thick Tierra Loma Member of the Moreno Formation and the 308 foot-thick Marca Member of the Moreno Formation.
EPA has made a preliminary determination to issue a UIC Class I Permit to PEC pending this public notice. This action is being taken as provided by Part C of the SDWA and pursuant to Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 124, 144, 146, and 147.
In 2016, EPA received a timely application for renewal of PEC’s Class I UIC permit, under which the facility is currently regulated. The permit application seeks to renew authorization of the existing four UIC Class I non-hazardous injection wells and authorize the Potential Wells for a ten-year period of continued injection of PEC’s wastewater.
All data submitted by the applicant is available as part of the administrative record for the Draft Permit. This Notice, EPA’s Fact Sheet, the Draft Permit, PEC’s permit application, and other supporting documents are available for public review online at www.regulations.gov under docket number EPA-R09-OW-2021-0147. These materials may also be accessed through the web address below.
If you are unable to access these materials on the internet, please contact Ms. Dermer at the telephone number or email address listed above for assistance.
Final Permit Decision and Appeals Process
After the close of the public comment period, EPA will issue a response to comments, a final permit decision, and will notify all commenters regarding the Agency’s decision. The final decision shall be to either issue or deny the Permit. If comments are filed which request a change in the Draft Permit, the final decision shall become effective no sooner than thirty (30) days after the service of the notice of decision. Within thirty (30) days after the final permit decision has been issued, any person who filed comments on the Draft Permit, participated in any public hearing on this matter, or takes issue with any changes in the Draft Permit, may petition the Environmental Appeals Board to review any condition of the permit decision. Commenters are referred to 40 CFR § 124.19 for procedural requirements of the appeal process. If no comments request a change in the Draft Permit, the Permit shall become effective immediately upon issuance.