On October 18, 2016, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued its requirements for the Deep Borehole Field Test. DENR prepared these requirements based on information from Rapid City engineering and consulting firm RESPEC, which worked with Battelle and the School of Mines on the failed effort to bring the Borehole research project to Spink County last spring. That team is now working on a bid for the nuclear-waste-disposal research project near Philip in Haakon County.
If the U.S. Department of Energy and Haakon County say drill, here’s what DENR will require of the drillers:
- Water Rights: The borehole isn’t a well, so the project won’t need to meet state well construction standards. However, DENR wants a plan for plugging the hole. If the drillers use public waters, they’ll need a temporary water right permit. No such permit is necessary if they hook up to an existing water system.
- Minerals and Mining: The borehole isn’t exploring for minerals, so it needs no mining permit.
- Air Quality: DENR is pretty iffy here:
A drilling operation may need to be permitted under the air quality program if pollutants are emitted to the air. The permitting process may take 90 days or more. Examples of equipment that will be regulated in the permit are pumps, boilers, and generators. Portable generators located onsite for more than 12 consecutive months are considered stationary generators and may need to be permitted. If the facility meets EPA’s definition for a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) facility, it will need a PSD preconstruction permit. This means that the company may have to collect air quality samples for a period of time before we can begin processing their permit application [SD DENR, “Deep Borehole Research Project Requirements,” 2016.10.18].
- Solid Waste: No permit necessary to take waste to an existing permitted landfill (nearest to Philip is Pierre). The state doesn’t regulate drill cuttings and drilling fluids dumped on site.
- Surface Water Quality: Storm water discharge permit if disturbing one or more acres. Temporary discharge permit if drilling fluid could get into state waters.
- Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) Title III (Hazardous Materials): report temporary or long-term storage of 10,000 pounds or more of OSHA hazardous substances, including drilling fluids or fuel.
- Spills/Releases: report and clean up any hazardous substances, immediately if spill affects surface water or exceeds 25 gallons.
- Spill Prevention Control & Countermeasure: EPA rules may cover on-site fuel storage.
- On-Site Wastewater/Septic System: approval by DENR, installation by certified installer. If serving 20 or more people or handles wastewater “that is not consistent with domestic strengths” (i.e., not just poop!), may need EPA permit.
Most of those requirements deal with operations. Only the plugging plan under water rights deals with the borehole itself. So apparently, there’s no DENR rule against sinking a hole three miles down into the Haakon County bedrock.