Storm Water Exemption for Oil and Gas Activities

Regulation of Oil and Gas Construction Activities

The 1987 Water Quality Act added section 402(l)(2) to the Clean Water Act (CWA) specifying that EPA and States shall not require NPDES permits for uncontaminated storm water discharges from oil and gas exploration, production, processing or treatment operations, or transmission facilities. Section 323 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 added a new provision to the CWA defining the term "oil and gas exploration, production, processing, or treatment operations or transmission facilities" to mean "all field activities or operations associated with exploration, production, processing, or treatment operations, or transmission facilities, including activities necessary to prepare a site for drilling and for the movement and placement of drilling equipment, whether or not such field activities or operations may be considered to be construction activity." See 33 U.S.C. 1362(24).

This provision effectively exempts from NPDES permit requirements storm water discharges from construction activities associated with oil and gas exploration, production, processing, or treatment operations or transmission facilities unless the relevant facility has had a discharge of storm water resulting in a discharge of a reportable quantity of oil or hazardous substances. 40 CFR 122.26(a)(2)(ii) (citing 122.26(c)(1)(iii)(C)). This provision exempts the oil and gas industry, including associated construction activities, from Federal NPDES storm water permits, except in very limited instances. Facilities that have had a discharge of storm water resulting in the discharge of a reportable quantity or contributes to a violation of a water quality standard are required to obtain an Alaska Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (APDES) permit coverage for storm water for the entire operating life of the facility.

DEC encourages operators of oil and gas field activities or operations to implement and maintain Best Management Practices (BMPs) to minimize discharges of pollutants, including sediment, in storm water both during and after construction activities to help ensure protection of surface water quality during storm events. Appropriate controls would be those suitable to the site conditions and consistent with generally accepted engineering design criteria and manufacturer specifications. Selection of BMPs could also be affected by seasonal or climate conditions.

For additional information please see http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/npdes/stormwater/Regulation-of-Oil-and-Gas-Construction-Activities.cfm.

Storm Water Regulations for Oil and Gas Related Facilities in The North Slope Borough

On October 31, 2012 the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) obtained full NPDES primacy of the Oil and Gas industry in Alaska which is now regulated under the APDES program. At the time of assuming primacy DEC adopted the former NPDES permit, AKG 33-1000 which is a discharge permit for six unique discharges associated with Oil and Gas Related facilities operating in the North Slope Borough. The regulated discharges are Gravel Pit Dewatering- Outfall 003, Construction Dewatering- Outfall 004, Hydrostatic Test Water- Outfall 005, Storm water- Outfall 006, Mobile Spill Response- Outfall 007, and Secondary Containment- Outfall 008. The authorized storm water discharges covered by this permit are related to industrial storm water discharges which have came in contact with industrial process areas, overburden, raw materials, products, etc. These regulated storm water discharges pertain only to industrial storm water discharges from industrial areas that due to the nature of North Slope oil production could contribute to a violation of a water quality standard and thus not meet the CWA Section 402 storm water exemption. Permit AKG 33-1000 does not require permit coverage for construction storm water discharges which would otherwise meet the oil and gas storm water exemption. Please refer to a copy of the AKG 33-1000 permit by clicking on the permit link http://www.dec.alaska.gov/Water/WPSdocs/AKG331000_docs.pdf for complete permit requirements. Any questions related to wastewater permitting for North Slope facilities should be directed to Gerry Brown, Oil & Gas Section Manager at 269-4874 or gerry.brown@alaska.gov.

General Permitting Regulations for Oil and Gas Facilities in Cook Inlet

The CWA Section 402 exemption which waives NPDES storm water coverage for oil and gas related field activities or operations would also apply to those Oil and Gas Exploration and Production facilities in Cook Inlet although their general permit would cover most of their industrial non-process wastewater discharges including certain industrial storm water not meeting the exemption. Specifically, AKG31-5000 covers platform deck drainage and storm water for on-shore production facilities in a manner similar to other regulated on-shore industrial facilities. A complete copy of the 2007 Final effective permit and Fact Sheet can be found at http://www.dec.alaska.gov/Water/WPSdocs/AKG315000_docs.pdf. Any additional questions related to permitting of Cook Inlet oil and gas facilities should be direct to Gerry Brown, Oil & Gas Section Manager at 269-4874 or gerry.brown@alaska.gov.