Underground Injection Control (UIC) wells are used to dispose of wastes deep underground using specially constructed wells. Class 2 wells are used to dispose of oil and gas wastes (these are known as 2D wells) or to inject fluids into oil or natural gas producing formations to enhance production (these are known as 2R wells). In West Virginia disposal wells have individual permits and enhanced recovery wells are in area permits (an area permit includes a number of injection and production wells). Disposal wells are generally used to dispose of a single operator's waste; some wells have commercial status and are used to dispose of a number of operators' waste. Waste can come from West Virginia or neighboring states.
West Virginia achieved primacy in 1983 by application to Region III of the EPA, which means that the state oversees all UIC activities (permitting, inspections, compliance enforcement, and so on). The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Oil and Gas currently manages the Class 2 program for West Virginia.
There's a video on YouTube which describes how a Class 2 UIC well works. It's also possible to play the mp4 video in your browser or to download it.
In this section of this site we have collected documents and information about a number of 2D and 2R wells and area permits. This information includes permit applications, permits, Mechanical Integrity Tests (or MITs), inspections, operators' WR-40 monitoring reports, Notifications of Violations (NOVs), and so forth. More information about the types of documents available is here.
The Office of Oil and Gas made program changes to its permitting process beginning in 2014 with a new permit application and guidance. Permit applications contain a wealth of information about the fluid being injected, facility layout, well construction, nearby wells within the Area of Review (AOR, usually within a quarter mile of the permitted well), nearby groundwater sources, and so on. Earlier permit applications include elements found in later applications, such as chemical analysis of the fluid being injected and sources.
The permit has conditions for operation based on requirements found in state law. Permits issued before 2014 were inadequate in this way.
NOVs are issued by inspectors based on violations of permit conditions or state law. Periodic inspections are part of the state's compliance enforcement program.
Below there are links to selected wells which present issues we think are important when looking at the state's program.
The NRDC released a report about the state's Class 2 program in 2019 entitled West Virginia's Groundwater Is Not Adequately Protected From Underground Injection. More information is available on this page.
We have also recreated the Office of Oil and Gas' searchable online UIC database. This recreation is based on a partial copy of the database in August 2016. Searchable tables are available for UIC inspections, UIC permits, and MITs.
A separate part of the Underground Injection Control section of Gas Well Study is devoted to background materials related to West Virginia's primacy (including the primacy application), EPA guidance documents, and a lot more.
Underground Injection Control Class 2 Wells
Introduction to Class 2 Wells in West Virginia
Collected documents and information for a number of Class 2 disposal wells and secondary recovery area permits
Searchable tables for UIC inspections, UIC permitting and MITs based on a copy of the Office of Oil and Gas' online UIC databases made in 2016.
Background materials related to West Virginia's primacy (including the primacy application), EPA guidance documents, and a lot more.
Select wells which present important issues
Gas Well Study is the examination of natural gas wells in West Virginia.
Underground Injection Control Class 2 Wells
These wells are used either for the disposal of oil and gas liquid waste or for the enhanced recovery of oil or natural gas.
Gas Well Study Site Visits
Annual reports, environmental assessments, and individual well information.
Select videos from the Gas Well Study YouTube channel.
What Happened at Fernow
An investigation into what caused the vegetation death in the land application area after landspraying hydraulic fracture flowback waste.
The Spill at Buckeye Creek
An investigation into a spill from a Marcellus well site into Buckeye Creek in Doddridge county.