Monday, October 14, 2013

WVDEP Issues New NPDES General Permit for Stormwater Associated with Oil and Natural Gas Construction Activities

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (“WVDEP”) recently issued an NPDES general water pollution control permit for stormwater associated with oil and natural gas related construction activities that disturb more than one acre of land. This permit regulates all oil and natural gas construction activities not permitted by WVDEP’s Office of Oil and Gas (“OOG”) under a well work permit or impoundment certification.  Since most access roads and gathering pipelines are generally permitted with the well site as part of OOG’s well work permit given to the producer, their construction would not be covered by this permit.  However, if gathering lines were not covered by the well work permit or a new gathering line is constructed after the well work permit has expired, the construction of a gathering line to a well site may be required to obtain coverage under the permit.

Producers and midstream companies are reminded that it is important to determine at the outset of project planning (i.e. before construction activity is even slated to begin) whether or not the project is required to be covered by the permit and if so, which process must be followed.   For example, there is a streamlined process for projects that disturb more than one acre but less than three acres.  It is important to know which process to follow because construction activities requiring coverage CANNOT BEGIN until notice of WVDEP’s approval of the application is received by the applicant and some applications have to be submitted at least ninety days prior to the start of construction. 

The permit focuses mainly on controlling erosion and sediment, but measures also must be taken to control fugitive dust from the construction activities. And preventative and proactive measures are required that include employee training, spill prevention and response procedures, a maintenance program and frequent inspections.

For questions about this new permit, please contact Joe Jenkins at LGCR – jjenkins@lgcr.com.