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Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area Releases Environmental Assessment for Well Plugging and Reclamation
Oneida, TN –Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (NRRA) announces that the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed plugging and reclamation of orphaned oil and natural gas (gas) wells was released today for a 20-day public review and comment period.
The potential release of contaminants from these orphaned wells pose environmental risks and public safety threats, including the potential for subsurface groundwater contamination; personal injury and property damage from spontaneous release of pressurized and highly flammable well fluids; site and access erosion from unreclaimed oil and gas development; and health and safety hazards in locations easily accessible by park visitors.
In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), this EA was prepared to analyze and disclose potential impacts from i
mplementing the no action alternative and the NPS preferred alternative for plugging and reclaiming orphaned oil and gas wells. The preferred alternative would plug and reclaim at least 45 known orphaned oil and gas wells per appropriate federal and state standards, and would reclaim associated access roads, as appropriate. This alternative would fulfill the project purpose and need by plugging and reclaiming known orphaned wells, ensuring protection of natural and cultural resources from the effects of past oil and gas operations in the Big South Fork NRRA, and minimizing human health and safety risks. The action is possible at this time because funding to plug and reclaim the majority of these wells has been made available through the 2009 enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The park is inviting public comments regarding the EA. Comments by mail may be sent to: Stennis R. Young, Superintendent, Big South Fork NRRA, Attn: Environmental Assessment for Well Plugging and Reclamation, 4564 Leatherwood Road, Oneida, Tennessee 37841. Telephone point of contact is Tom Blount, Chief of Resource Management at (423) 569-2404, extension 252.
Comments may also be made on-line at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/biso. Follow the appropriate links to Environmental Assessment for Oil and Gas Well Plugging and Reclamation. Public comments are requested by February 8, 2010.
Before including an address, phone number, email address or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment including your personal identifying information may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.