DOI-BLM-NV-C010-2011-0516-EA

From Open Energy Information


NEPA Document Collection for: DOI-BLM-NV-C010-2011-0516-EA
EA at Dixie Meadows Geothermal Area for Geothermal/Exploration, Geothermal/Well Field

EA for Thermal Gradient Holes at Dixie Meadows Geothermal Exploration Project for Geothermal/Exploration, Geothermal/Well Field

Proposed Action


Ormat proposes to evaluate the geothermal resources that potentially exist within the Lease Area by constructing up to 20 well pads and drilling one of each of the three different types of geothermal exploration wells on each pad: temperature gradient wells, observation wells, and production wells. Therefore a total of 60 geothermal exploration wells may be drilled as part of the Proposed Action. Each well pad would be permitted to accommodate the maximum approximate size necessary for the construction and operation of a production well, the largest of the three types. The drilling of each well type may not necessarily occur on each well pad, only one well of each well type would be drilled on any single well pad, and not all well pads may be utilized or developed. While each pad site would be permitted to accommodate a production well, well pads would be constructed only to the extent necessary to accommodate the well type(s) situated on it. If Ormat initially drills a temperature gradient well or observation well on a well pad, that well pad would not be expanded to full permitted size unless a production well is later drilled on it. Under no circumstances would a well pad be expanded to a size greater than that needed for a production well. Specific details about the design and layout of well pads are provided in Section 2.1.2.1.

In support of the geothermal exploration drilling activities, Ormat also proposes to construct new gravel access roads and utilize and repair existing roads for access to the Project Area. Gravel would be obtained from an existing mineral material site that Ormat would expand and from a new mineral material site that Ormat would construct (Figure 2). Additionally, Ormat proposes to drill up to two groundwater wells on one or two of the proposed well pads or at the proposed new gravel source area. Therefore, a total of 62 wells may be drilled, including 60 geothermal exploration wells and 2 groundwater wells. Ormat would install an above-ground water distribution pipeline, within the project boundary as described in this EA, between the groundwater wells and well pads actively being drilled. The pipeline would be located along the sides of proposed access roads and on well pads, and would not require additional surface disturbance. The water distribution pipeline system would require prior BLM approval of a Sundry Notice to authorize construction of the pipeline. Ormat would also construct or install the necessary ancillary facilities in support of drilling activities, including a temporary personnel “camp” for active drilling crews.


Data Completion Notes

Data entry complete.

Documents

FONSI: Decision:


 

Resource Analysis

Resource Not
Present
Present,
Not
Affected
Present,
Potentially
Affected
Not
Indicated
Comment Applicant
Proposed
Mitigation
Agency
Imposed
Mitigation
Air Quality
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

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Surface access roads with aggregate materials, wherever appropriate;

Use dust abatement techniques such as watering on unpaved, unvegetated surfaces to minimize airborne dust, as needed;

Apply dust abatement techniques (such as watering, requiring loader buckets to be emptied slowly, and minimizing drop heights) to earthmoving, excavating, trenching, grading, and aggregate-crushing and -processing activities;

Minimize equipment and vehicle idling times to 15 minutes during construction activities;

Observe prudent speed limits on unpaved roads throughout the Project Area in order to reduce dust emissions; and,

Maintain access roads, Project Area roads, and other traffic areas on a regular basis to minimize dust and provide for safe travel conditions.
 
Areas of Critical Environmental Concern
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Cultural Resources
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

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Ormat would avoid cultural resource sites that are known to be eligible or potentially eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places through design, construction, and operation of the project.

An approximately 100-foot buffer zone would be established and identified by placing flagging around eligible and potentially eligible cultural resource sites to help provide protection to the sites. Project equipment and facilities would not encroach into the established 100-foot buffer zone;

The project facilities would be operated in a manner consistent with the engineered design to prevent problems associated with the run-off that could affect adjacent cultural sites. This includes the use of BMPs to minimize off-site erosion and sedimentation.

Where the installation of project facilities could impact eligible or potentially eligible cultural sites(s), Ormat would retain a qualified archaeologist to serve as a cultural monitor during construction of the facility in order to avoid potential effects to the cultural site(s). The BLM would decide when cultural monitors would be necessary.

Ormat would limit vehicle and equipment travel to existing and proposed access roads, well pads, construction areas, and gravel source areas.

Any unplanned discovery of cultural resources, items of cultural patrimony, sacred objects, or funerary items would require that all activity in the vicinity of the find ceases, and the Field Manager, Stillwater Field Office, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, Carson City, Nevada 89701, be notified immediately by phone (775-885-6000) with written confirmation to follow. The location of the find would not be publicly disclosed, and any human remains must be secured and preserved in the place until a Notice to Proceed is

issued by the authorized officer.
 
Environmental Justice
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Prime or Unique Farmlands
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Floodplains
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Invasive, Nonnative Species
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

Close

Ormat would use a certified weed-free seed mix during reclamation of disturbed areas;

Ormat would follow standards outlined in Surface Operating Standards and Guidelines for Oil and Gas Exploration and Development, The Gold Book (BLM 2007d) for well site reclamation;

Areas that become infested with invasive species/noxious weeds during construction would be mapped and treated using a certified weed-free seed mix and mulching materials in accordance with lease stipulations.

Ormat would complete concurrent reclamation when feasible in order to minimize disturbed areas where weed species could establish;

Ormat would implement a weed management plan for noxious weeds during the life of the project (Appendix B);

Ormat would apply a weed-free seed mix to growth medium and overburden stockpiles as soon as possible following stockpile completion;

Vehicle traffic would be restricted to access roads, well pads, and gravel pits to reduce potential mechanical transport of noxious weed seeds; and

Existing noxious weed infestations (Tamarix sp.) would be treated before any disturbance within the Project Area occurs.
 
Migratory Birds
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Native American Concerns
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Threatened and Endangered Species
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Wastes Hazardous or Solid
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

ClosePrior to initiating operations, a project hazardous material spill and disposal contingency

plan would be prepared and submitted for approval to BLM that would describe the methods for cleanup and abatement of any petroleum hydrocarbon or other hazardous material spill. The hazardous material spill and disposal contingency plan would be made readily available on-site before operations begin.

  • Secondary containment structures would be provided for all chemical and petroleum/oil

storage areas during drilling operations. Additionally, absorbent pads or sheets would be placed under likely spill sources and spill kits would be maintained on-site during construction and drilling activities to provide prompt response to accidental leaks or spills of chemicals and petroleum products.

  • Handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials, hazardous wastes, and solid

wastes would be conducted in conformance with federal and state regulations to prevent soil, groundwater, or surface water contamination and associated adverse effects on the environment or worker health and safety.

  • H2S monitoring and alarm equipment would be installed and operated on the mud tanks

of observation and production wells during drilling below the surface casing.

  • Portable sanitary facilities would be available and used by all personnel during

exploration activities. These facilities would be serviced by a local contractor, and human waste would be disposed of at an approved facility.

  • Noise suppression devices would be used on all compressors.
  • Any herbicide selection and application would be in conformance with Final Vegetation

Treatments Using Herbicides on Bureau of Land Management Lands in 17 Western States Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (BLM 2007a) and Record of

Decision (BLM 2007c).
 
Wetlands and Riparian Zones
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Wild and Scenic Rivers
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Wilderness
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Lands and Realty
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Soils
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

CloseTopsoil would be salvaged, stockpiled, and reused whenever possible and in a timely

manner.

  • Temporarily disturbed areas would be reseeded where previously vegetated using a

BLM-approved seed mixture.

  • Erosion control measures, including but not limited to silt fencing, diversion ditches,

water bars, temporary mulching and seeding, and application of gravel or rip rap, would be installed, where necessary, immediately after completion of construction activities to avoid erosion and runoff.

  • Access roads would follow existing contours to the maximum extent possible. In areas

where new access roads must be constructed across slopes, erosion control measures such as silt fence, surface roughening, and slope stabilization would be provided as necessary.

  • An average of 6 inches of gravel would be used as road surface where appropriate

because roads would be used during all seasons.

  • Gravel would be laid down when ground conditions are wet enough to cause rutting or

other noticeable surface deformation and severe compaction. As a general rule, if vehicles or other project equipment create ruts in excess of 4 inches deep when traveling cross-country over wet soils, a gravel surface would be added prior to additional vehicle use.

    • In areas of very soft soils, up to 3 feet of aggregate would be used during construction.
 
Vegetation
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Wildlife Resources
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

Close

Trash and other waste products would be properly managed, and Ormat would control garbage that could attract wildlife. All trash would be removed from the Project Area and disposed of at an authorized landfill.

Speed limits would be posted, and if necessary speeds would be reduced, especially when wildlife is active near access and service roads.

Employees and contractors are strictly prohibited from carrying firearms on the job site to discourage illegal hunting and harassment of wildlife.

Reclamation of the disturbed areas, as described in Section 2.1.8, would be completed in order to return these areas to the condition required in the drilling permit Conditions of Approval.

Areas that become infested with invasive species/noxious weeds during construction would be mapped and treated using a certified weed-free seed mix and mulching materials in accordance with lease stipulations.

Weed infestations would be avoided or treated before disturbance.
 
Special Status Species
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Range Resources
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Geology and Minerals
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Recreation
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Visual Resources
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

Close
  • Water would be periodically applied on soil surfaces during construction and grading to

control dust.

  • Cut and fill areas would be minimized by proper placement of roads and well pads.
  • Equipment placed at the well pads after drilling and testing would be removed so that

only the wellhead extends above the well pad.

  • Drill rig and well test facility lights would be limited to those required to safely conduct

the operations and would be shielded and/or directed in a manner that focuses direct light to the immediate work area.

  • Disturbances would be reclaimed to pre-construction conditions or equivalent.
 
Wild Horse and Burro Management
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

   
Fire Resources
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

Close
  • The BLM Stillwater Field Office (775.885.6000) would be notified immediately of any

wildland fire, even if the available personnel can handle the situation or the fire poses no threat to the surrounding area.

  • A roster of emergency phone numbers would be available at the project site so that the

appropriate firefighting agency can be contacted in case of a fire.

  • All vehicles would carry, at a minimum, a shovel, five gallons of water (preferably in a

backpack pump), and a conventional fire extinguisher.

  • Adequate fire-fighting equipment (a shovel, a Pulaski, standard fire extinguisher(s), and

an ample water supply) would be kept readily available at each active drill site. Water that is used for construction and dust control would be available for fire suppression.

  • Vehicle catalytic converters (on vehicles that would enter and leave the drill site on a

regular basis) would be inspected often and cleaned of all flammable debris.

  • All cutting/welding torch use, electric-arc welding, and grinding operations would be

conducted in an area free, or mostly free, from vegetation. An ample water supply and shovel would be on hand to extinguish any fires created from sparks. At least one person in addition to the cutter/welder/grinder would be at the work site to promptly detect fires created by sparks.

  • Personnel would be responsible for being aware of and complying with the requirements

of any fire restrictions or closures issued by the BLM Carson City District, as publicized in the local media or posted at various sites throughout the field office district.

  • Personnel would be allowed to smoke only in designated areas and would be required to

follow applicable BLM regulations regarding smoking.

  • Any small fires which occur around the well pad during drilling and/or testing operations

should be able to be controlled by rig personnel utilizing on-site firefighting equipment.

  • Spark arresters would be used on all equipment that has the potential to emit sparks.
 
Water Quantity
"NEPA_Resource_Analysis" is not in the list of possible values (Not Present, Present, Not Affected, Present, Potentially Affected, Not Indicated) for this property.

 

Close

Surface Water

When proposed new access roads must cross ephemeral washes, rolling dips would be installed. The rolling dips would be designed to accommodate flows from at least a 25-year storm event. Culverts may be used wherever rolling dips are not feasible.

Ormat would routinely inspect the integrity of the berm around each reserve pit to ensure it provides an effective barrier between surface waters outside of the berm and drilling/geothermal fluids inside the berm. This would be particularly beneficial at well pads within playa areas where the playa surface may become seasonally and temporarily inundated with surface water.

Temperature gradient well operations for individual wells within playa areas would not be initiated when standing water is present on the well pad location or its associated access route. If standing water encroaches on existing temperature gradient operations within playa areas, Ormat would work with BLM and evaluate the specific situation to determine if operations need be suspended until the water recedes or if operations can continue.

Construction of access roads and well pads for individual observation or production wells located within the playa areas would not be initiated if there is standing water within the well pads access route or on the well pad location. Ormat would work with BLM to evaluate the specific circumstances and determine the conditions under which construction activities can be initiated.

Silt fences and/or straw bales would be used in areas requiring sediment control.

Roads and well pads not required for further geothermal exploration purposes would be re-contoured to preconstruction conditions and seeded to prevent erosion.

Access roads would follow existing contours to the maximum extent possible. In areas where new access roads must be constructed across slopes, erosion control measures such as silt fences, surface roughening of slopes, and slope stabilization would be provided as necessary.

Erosion control measures, including but not limited to silt fencing, diversion ditches, water bars, temporary mulching and seeding, and application of gravel or rip rap, would be installed, where necessary, immediately after completion of construction activities to

avoid erosion and runoff.
CloseDrilling activities would be kept to a minimum distance of 650 feet from any drainage, seep, or spring, unless approved by BLM;

Groundwater

Excavation into native soil during construction of well pad reserve pits would be minimized to the maximum extent possible.

Drill pad reserve pits would be compacted during construction, and settled bentonite clay from drilling mud would accumulate on the bottom of the drill pad reserve pits to act as an unconsolidated clay liner, reducing the potential for drilling fluid to percolate to groundwater.

A BLM-approved cementing and casing program for the drilling of all wells would be implemented to prevent water quality effects on groundwater during or after completion of the wells.

Borehole geophysics analyses (cement bond logs) would be conducted to document that well casing cementing activities provide an effective seal isolating the geothermal aquifer from shallow alluvial aquifers, therefore minimizing potential impacts on surface springs or streams.

The project would use BMPs to ensure that any geothermal fluid encountered during the drilling does not flow uncontrolled to the surface. These include the use of BOPE during drilling and the installation of well casing cemented into the ground.

Any well on the leased land that is not in use or demonstrated to be potentially useful would be promptly plugged and abandoned in accordance with lease stipulations. No well would be abandoned until it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the BLM

that it is no longer capable of producing in commercial quantities and would not serve any other useful purpose such as for injection of geothermal fluids or monitoring of the geothermal reservoir or groundwater.