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EPA issues final permit for Kinder Morgan injection well at Pleasant View

Produced water from CO₂ drilling injected over 1.5 miles underground
A Kinder Morgan drill rig near Pleasant View goes up amid farmland.

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a 10-year renewal permit for Kinder Morgan CO₂ Co. to continue operations of an underground injection well southwest of Pleasant View.

The company injects produced water from its carbon dioxide wells into the Hovenweep Waste Disposal Well No. 1. The permit renewal is pending a 30-day objection period.

The well is nearly 8,583 feet deep and disposes the brine fluid into the Leadville and Ouray formations. The injection well, off County Road 12, south of Road BB has been in operation since 1987.

The renewal permit expands the authorized injection zone by 900 feet into the Elbert and Cambrian formations “to ensure that injected fluids remain within the authorized injection zone.”

The EPA issued a renewal permit for the Class 1 Non-Hazardous Waste Disposal Well, which includes authorization of the expanded injection zone and continued operation of the well, according to EPA documents.

EPA regulates underground injection of fluids into wells so that injection does not endanger underground sources of drinking water. The requirements specify the approved minimum construction standards for well casing and cement, injection tubing and packer.

Monitoring includes pressure-actuated shut-off devices attached to the injection flow line that shuts off the injection pump when or before the maximum allowable injection pressure is reached.

If fluids go beyond the injection zone, Kinder Morgan shall notify EPA within 24 hours and submit a written report on the circumstances.

Injected fluids are limited to nonhazardous industrial fluids. Kinder Morgan is authorized to inject field and gas plant waste streams and other associated waste streams generated at the permittee’s McElmo Dome and Doe Canyon facilities, according to the permit.

Industrial injection wells are known to cause earthquakes, because the fluids injected deep underground can lubricate fault lines and cause them to shift. As part of the proposed permit, Kinder Morgan is required to subscribe to the Earthquake Notification Service to monitor seismic activity within 50 miles from the area permit boundary.

For any seismic event of magnitude 4.5 reported within 2 miles of the permit boundary, the permittee shall immediately cease injection and report to EPA within 24 hours.

According to the permit, Kinder Morgan is required to ensure the injection well maintains mechanical integrity at all times. Injecting into a well that lacks mechanical integrity is prohibited.

EPA responds to comments

The EPA responded to comments and concerns about the injection well permit renewal, including from Ellen Foster, of Montezuma County.

Regarding protecting water sources, EPA analyses concluded that injection activities and the expansion of the injection zone will not impact sources of drinking water.

“The Devonian Elbert and Cambrian Formations do not supply any public water systems within the a quarter-mile area of review surrounding the HWD-1 injection well nor at other injection well locations as far as eight miles away,” EPA documents state.

“Also, shallow drinking water sources are protected from injection activities by adequate well construction. The cemented area outside the well and the upper confining zone prevents upward fluid movement into shallow drinking water sources.”

Regarding projected volume of produced water to be injected into the well over the next 10 years, the EPA estimated total amount of fluid to be 24,007,527 barrels. A barrel holds 42 gallons.

The permit can be viewed on the EPA Region 8 website.

Kinder Morgan also has pending permits for underground injection wells HWD-2, on County Road 8, and Moqui-1 north of Road 18, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.