§ 78.56. Pits and tanks for temporary containment.

 (a)  Except as provided in § §  78.60(b) and 78.61(b) (relating to discharge requirements; and disposal of drill cuttings), the operator shall contain pollutional substances and wastes from the drilling, altering, completing, recompleting, servicing and plugging the well, including brines, drill cuttings, drilling muds, oils, stimulation fluids, well treatment and servicing fluids, plugging and drilling fluids other than gases in a pit, tank or series of pits and tanks. The operator shall install or construct and maintain the pit, tank or series of pits and tanks in accordance with the following requirements:

   (1)  The pit, tank or series of pits and tanks shall be constructed and maintained with sufficient capacity to contain all pollutional substances and wastes which are used or produced during drilling, altering, completing and plugging the well.

   (2)  A pit shall be designed, constructed and maintained so that at least 2 feet of freeboard remain at all times. If open tanks are used, the tanks shall be maintained so that at least 2 feet of freeboard remain at all times unless the tank is provided with an overflow system to a standby tank or pit with sufficient volume to contain all excess fluid or waste. If an open standby tank is used, it shall be maintained with 2 feet of freeboard. If this subsection is violated, the operator immediately shall take the necessary measures to ensure the structural stability of the pit or tank, prevent spills and restore the 2 feet of freeboard.

   (3)  Pits and tanks shall be designed, constructed and maintained to be structurally sound and reasonably protected from unauthorized acts of third parties.

   (4)  A pit or tank that contains drill cuttings from below the casing seat, pollutional substances, wastes or fluids other than tophole water, fresh water and uncontaminated drill cuttings shall be impermeable and comply with the following:

     (i)   The pits shall be constructed with a synthetic flexible liner with a coefficient of permeability of no greater than 1 x 10-7 cm/sec and with sufficient strength and thickness to maintain the integrity of the liner. The liner shall be designed, constructed and maintained so that the physical and chemical characteristics of the liner are not adversely affected by the waste and the liner is resistant to physical, chemical and other failure during transportation, handling, installation and use. Adjoining sections of liners shall be sealed together to prevent leakage in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions. If the operator seeks to use a liner material other than a synthetic flexible liner, the operator shall submit a plan identifying the type and thickness of the material and the installation procedures to be used, and shall obtain approval of the plan by the Department before proceeding.

     (ii)   The pit shall be constructed so that the liner subbase is smooth, uniform and free from debris, rock and other material that may puncture, tear, cut or otherwise cause the liner to fail. The liner subbase and subgrade shall be capable of bearing the weight of the material above the liner without settling that may affect the integrity of the liner. If the pit bottom or sides consist of rock, shale or other materials that may cause the liner to fail, a subbase of at least 6 inches of soil, sand or smooth gravel, or sufficient amount of an equivalent material, shall be installed over the area as the subbase for the liner.

     (iii)   The bottom of the pit shall be at least 20 inches above the seasonal high groundwater table, unless the operator obtains approval under subsection (b) for a pit that exists only during dry times of the year and is located above groundwater.

     (iv)   If a liner becomes torn or otherwise loses its integrity, the pit shall be managed to prevent the pit contents from leaking from the pit. If repair of the liner or construction of another temporary pit is not practical or possible, the pit contents shall be removed and disposed at an approved waste disposal facility or disposed on the well site in accordance with §  78.61, §  78.62 or §  78.63 (relating to disposal of residual waste—pits; and disposal of residual waste—land application).

     (v)   If the liner drops below the 2 feet of freeboard, the pit shall be managed to prevent the pit contents from leaking from the pit and the 2 feet of lined freeboard shall be restored.

 (b)  The operator may request to use practices other than those specified in subsection (a) which provide equivalent or superior protection by submitting a request to the Department for approval. The request shall be made on forms provided by the Department.

 (c)  Disposal of uncontaminated drill cuttings in a pit or by land application shall comply with §  78.61. A pit used for the disposal of residual waste, including contaminated drill cuttings, shall comply with §  78.62. Disposal of residual waste, including contaminated drill cuttings, by land application shall comply with §  78.63.

 (d)  Unless a permit under The Clean Streams Law (35 P.S. § §  691.1—691.1001) or approval under §  78.57 or §  78.58 (relating to control, storage and disposal of production fluids; and existing pits used for the control, storage and disposal of production fluids) has been obtained for the pit, the owner or operator shall remove or fill the pit within 9 months after completion of drilling, or in accordance with the extension granted by the Department under section 206(g) of the act (58 P.S. §  601.206(g)). Pits used during servicing, plugging and recompleting the well shall be removed or filled within 90 days of construction.


   The provisions of this §  78.56 adopted July 28, 1989, effective July 29, 1989, 19 Pa.B. 3229; amended December 16, 1994, effective December 17, 1994, 24 Pa.B. 6284; amended March 30, 2001, effective March 31, 2001, 31 Pa.B. 1736. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (263009) to (263010) and (241901).

Cross References

   This section cited in 25 Pa. Code §  78.54 (relating to general requirements); 25 Pa. Code §  78.55 (relating to control and disposal planning); 25 Pa. Code §  78.57 (relating to control, storage and disposal of production fluids); and 25 Pa. Code §  78.61 (relating to disposal of drill cuttings).

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