DOI-BLM-UT-W020-2010-0042-EA

From Open Energy Information


NEPA Document Collection for: DOI-BLM-UT-W020-2010-0042-EA
EA for Geothermal/Exploration, Geothermal/Well Field

EA for Thermal Gradient Holes at Drum Mountains and Whirlwind Valley Geothermal Exploration Projects for Geothermal/Exploration, Geothermal/Well Field

Proposed Action


Ormat proposes to evaluate the geothermal resources that potentially exist within the Drum Mountains and Whirlwind Valley lease areas (Figure 2) by constructing well pads at each proposed location, and drilling up to one temperature gradient well, one observation well, and one production well on each site. The primary objective for the geothermal exploration projects is to gain an understanding of the characteristics of geothermal resources within the two lease areas.

  • constructing up to 11 geothermal exploration well pads at the Drum Mountain lease area and as many as 16 geothermal exploration pads at the Whirlwind Valley lease area;
  • constructing access roads and with occasional vehicle turnout spaces;
  • constructing aggregate (gravel) source areas for gravel surfacing of well pads and roads;
  • drilling and completing geothermal exploration wells;
  • flow testing select observation and productions wells as applicable;
  • drilling non-potable water wells on the well pads or gravel source areas within the Drum Mountains and Whirlwind Valley lease areas; and,
  • constructing temporary personnel camps during drilling activities at either or both lease areas.


The above list is representative of the major components of the proposed action and is not necessarily inclusive of all activities and operational procedures that would occur if the proposed action were implemented. Similarly, the above list includes several activities and/or components that may not necessarily be performed or constructed, depending on data collected during operations. The following subsections detail the specific construction and operational procedures that comprise the proposed action and are the subject of the analysis of this EA.


Data Completion Notes

8/7/2013 - Add Drum Mountains, Whirlwind Valley to geothermal areas KW

Data entry complete 8/14

Documents

Serial Register Page:





FONSI: Decision:


 

<metadesc> : NEPA document related to geothermal resource areas </metadesc>

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.

Ground disturbing activities have the potential to create fugitive dust in the area, which is open and generally undeveloped.

 
Close• Access roads will be surfaced with aggregate materials, wherever appropriate.

• Dust abatement techniques, such as watering on unpaved, unvegetated surfaces to minimize airborne dust, will be used as needed.

• Dust abatement techniques (such as watering, requiring loader buckets to be emptied slowly, and minimizing drop heights) will be applied to earthmoving, excavating, trenching, grading, and aggregate crushing and processing activities.

• Equipment and vehicle idling times will be minimized during construction activities (Emission Standards for Stationary Internal Combustion Engines of 2 g/bhp-hr of NOx for engines less than 300 HP (Tier 3) and 1 g/bhr-hr of NOx for engines over 300 HP (Tier 3)).

• Prudent speed limits will be observed on unpaved roads throughout the project areas in order to reduce dust emissions.

• Access roads, project area roads and other traffic areas will be maintained 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.

There are no ACEC’s located within the project area.

   
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.

Historic Properties are not present at the drill pad locations. Inventories consisted of 10 acres polygons at the pad locations and access routes.

 
Close• Ormat will retain the services of a qualified archaeologist for purposes of conducting a cultural resources survey in all portions of the project areas. Ormat will avoid known eligible and potentially eligible cultural resource sites through design, construction, and operation of the project.

• An approximate 100-foot buffer zone will be established around eligible and potentially eligible cultural resource sites to help provide protection to the sites. Project facilities and disturbance will not encroach into the established 100-foot buffer zone.

• The project facilities will 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.

• Ormat will limit vehicle and equipment travel to existing and proposed roads, well pad locations, and construction areas, including gravel source areas.

• Any unplanned discovery of cultural resources, items of cultural patrimony, sacred objects or funerary items requires that all activity in the vicinity of the find ceases, and the Field Manager, FFO, 35 East 500 North, Fillmore, Utah 84631, be notified immediately by phone (435-743-3100) with written confirmation to follow. The location of the find will 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.

There are no minority or low income populations that would be disproportionately impacted by the proposed action.

   
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.

A review of maps of prime and unique farmlands in the Fillmore Field Office Area showed that there are no prime or unique farmlands in the project area

   
Fisheries 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.

No fish habitat occurs within or near the proposed action.

   
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.

Floodplains at Fish Springs Wash and Swasey Wash would not be impacted by the proposed action, which includes surfacing new access routes with gravel when drilling observation and production wells.

   
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.

Mitigation measures outlined in the project proposal should provide adequate protection or notification.

 
Close• The BLM Central Utah Fire Dispatch (435.896.8404) will 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 will be available at the project site so that the appropriate firefighting agency can be contacted in case of a fire.

• All vehicles will 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) will 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 will enter and leave the drill site on a regular basis) will be inspected often and cleaned of all flammable debris.

• All cutting/welding torch use, electric-arc welding, and grinding operations will be conducted in an area free, or mostly free, from vegetation. An ample water supply and shovel will be on hand to extinguish any fires created from sparks. At least one person in addition to the cutter/welder/grinder will be at the work site to promptly detect fires created by sparks.

• Personnel will be responsible for being aware of and complying with the requirements of any fire restrictions or closures issued by the BLM West Desert District and Central Utah Fire, as publicized in the local media or posted at various sites throughout the field office district.

• Personnel will 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.
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.

Mineral activity is common in the area, however the drilling of the wells will enhance knowledge of the mineral potential of the area and would only be a temporary inconvenience if any problem at all for mineral activities.

   
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.

here are known infestations of Squarrose knapweed in and around the proposed project area.

 
Close• Areas that become infested with invasive species/noxious weeds during construction will be mapped and treated, and certified weed-free seed and mulching materials will be used in accordance with lease stipulations. • Avoid or treat existing weed infestations before disturbance
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.

There are known infestations of Squarrose knapweed in and around the proposed project area

 
Close• Existing roads and trails will be used for travel to the maximum extent feasible unless otherwise authorized. During wet road conditions, any ruts deeper than four inches remaining on the roads from the project will be repaired at the Authorized Officer’s discretion.

• Generated trash/debris will be removed from public land and discarded at an authorized facility.

• The proposed project will be subject to valid prior existing rights-of-way including county-maintained roads. Holders should be contacted and coordinated with, if the proposed project affects any existing rights-of-way.
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.

Exploration drill activity would occur in three sheep and cattle allotments. There would be direct but minor losses of forage in the allotments due to exploration development

   
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.

Migratory birds are known to occur within and near the proposed action. Well, access road, and gravel pit development will alter habitat values and may cause nests to be destroyed or abandoned.

 
Close• The migratory bird season extends from May 15 thru July 15. Preferably, operations will occur outside these dates from July 16 thru May 14. If operations occur during the migratory bird season, pre-activity bird surveys will be conducted by a qualified biologist for nesting individuals. If an active nest is identified, a 200 ft. No-activity buffer will be established for the nest site until young have fledged and/or the nest becomes non-active. • Raptor management will be guided by the use of ‘Best Management Practices for Raptors and Their Associated Habitats in Utah” (Appendix C), utilizing seasonal and spatial buffers, as well as mitigation, to maintain and enhance raptor nesting and foraging habitat, while allowing other resource uses. Generally the spatial buffer is 0.5 miles and extends from Jan. 1 – August 1 for golden eagles and from March 1 – August 1 for Ferruginous hawks. Smaller species such as burrowing owls and short-eared owls require a 0.25 mile buffer and extends from March 1 – August 31. If operations occur within these periods, surveys will be conducted by a qualified biologist to determine presence; appropriate spatial and temporal buffers will be established if active nests are discovered.
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.

 

   
Paleontological 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.

 

   
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.

Some casual recreation use occurs in the vicinity of the project area; there would be no effect to recreation use of the project area.

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

With ongoing drilling activities and staff purchasing some supplies in the area during the exploration project, there would be minor socio-economic positive effects for the communities near the project area.

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

With ongoing drilling activities and staff purchasing some supplies in the area during the exploration project, there would be minor socio-economic positive effects for the communities near the project area.

   
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.

Soils would be disturbed for exploration access and drill pad construction.

 
Close• Topsoil 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 six 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 four 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 three feet of aggregate would be used during construction.
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.

There are no known federally-listed plant species within the proposed geothermal exploration area.

   
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.

Special status species such as burrowing owls and shorteared owls are known or have a high probability to occur within or near the proposed action.

   
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.

 

 
Close• A project hazardous material spill and disposal contingency plan will be prepared that will describe the methods for cleanup and abatement of any petroleum hydrocarbon or other hazardous material spill. The hazardous material spill and disposal contingency plan will be submitted to and approved by the BLM and made readily available onsite before operations begin.

• Secondary containment structures will be provided for all chemical and petroleum/oil storage areas during drilling operations. Additionally, absorbent pads or sheets will be placed under likely spill sources and spill kits will be maintained onsite 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 will 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.

• Portable chemical sanitary facilities will be available and used by all personnel during periods of well drilling and/or flow testing. These facilities will be maintained by a local contractor.
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.

A review of riparian maps showed that there are no wetlands or riparian zones present in the project area

   
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.

There are no Wild & Scenic rivers listed in Public Law 111.11 for the Fillmore Field Office area.

   
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.

The Utah Wilderness Inventory of 1999 identified one WSA in the vicinity of the project area, the Swasey Mountains WSA to the west of, but not directly adjacent to the project area.

   
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.

Crucial year-long habitat for pronghorn antelope is known to occur within and near the proposed action.

 
Close• Trash and other waste products will be properly managed and Ormat will control garbage that could attract wildlife. All trash will be removed from the project areas and disposed of at an authorized landfill.

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

• The applicant will not engage in any conduct or activity that allows a “take” (i.e. Harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect) of any wildlife. Any “take” or wildlife problems are to be reported to the BLM. All wildlife is to be appreciated and given their space to carry out their biological/ecological activities.

• Employees and contractors will be strictly prohibited from carrying firearms on the job site to discourage “take.”

• The applicant will avoid/minimize any undue or significant impacts to the habitat that will degrade or reduce the function and availability of food, cover, water and space. If habitat is degraded by activities, the applicant will inform the BLM so that possible mitigation measures can be developed to rehabilitate the site.

• The applicant will avoid/minimize impacts to all burrows and washes as much as practical to conduct operations. Washes will be crossed perpendicular to the channel as much as possible.

• All operations will be in conformance with the stipulations / mitigation measures identified within the December 2008 Oil and Gas Stipulations and Notices for the Fillmore Field Office (BLM 2008; Appendix B). They can be reviewed in their entirety within the Appendices of the Environmental Assessment.

• All lighting will be minimized and directed downward. Insects are attracted to lighting sources which further attracts bats. If any bat mortalities occur, the applicant will contact and report to the BLM wildlife biologist.

• If any fence structures are constructed to protect well heads, structures will be designed to deter any raptor perching.
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.

Shrub/grass vegetation in the project area would be impacted for access road construction, materials extraction, and drill pad construction.

 
Close• Reclamation of the disturbed areas, as described earlier in this document, will be completed in order to return these areas to the condition required in the drilling permit Conditions of Approval.
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.

The project area is within a VRM Management Class IV (RMP Map 5) and meets the requirements of the Land Use Plan.

 
Close• Periodic application of water will be used on soil surfaces during construction and grading to control dust.

• Cut and fill areas will be minimized by proper placement of roads and well pads.

• Equipment placed at the well pads will be removed after drilling and testing so that only the wellhead extends above the well pad.

• Drill rig and well test facility lights will be limited to those required to safely conduct the operations, and will be shielded and/or directed in a manner that focuses direct light to the immediate work area.

• Disturbances will be reclaimed to pre-construction conditions.
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.

The Swasey Wild Horse HMA is located west of the proposed well sites.

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

The 1979 wilderness inventory for the Whirlwind Valley, Swasey Bottom, and Little Drum Mountain areas were recommended as not qualifying for further inventory and should be dropped from the wilderness review process.

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

 

 
CloseNoise levels would be short-lived, and ear protection would be required on all personnel. There are no known residences or places of public assembly within a 20-mile radius of the project areas. Noise suppression devices will be utilized on all compressors.
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.

Surface water quality could be impacted by exploration activity in or near channel bottoms. Groundwater quality could be impacted inadvertently during drilling or as a result of fluid storage in mud pits.

 
CloseSurface 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.

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

• Roads and well pads not required for further geothermal development 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 fence, 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.

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

• Drill pad reserve pits would be compacted during construction and settled bentonite clay from drilling mud will 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 temperature, observation, and production 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 other aquifers, therefore minimizing potential impacts on surface springs, streams and groundwater.

• 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 "blow-out" prevention equipment 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.