Bills on Abandoned Wells, Waste Pass Senate Hurdles

Article excerpt

A bill to assist the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in plugging abandoned oil wells passed the state Senate 44-0 on Monday, and now goes to the House of Representatives.

Lawmakers also passed bills addressing solid waste management and a proposed Product Development Act.

Senate Bill 894 by Sen. Ray Giles, D-Pocasset, and Rep. Larry Rice, D-Pryor, would give the state a lien on all abandoned oil and gas well-site equipment. A well would be deemed abandoned if there was no activity such as production, injection, disposal or testing for a year. Another criterion would be lack of maintenance of the well in compliance with plugging rules.

The designation of "abandonment" would apply only for getting the lien, but it wouldn't affect the term of property or contract rights on the premises.

Giles said the purpose of the legislation is to help the corporation commission with well plugging.

Senate Bill 683, passed 43-0 by the Senate, would require extensive background disclosure information on applicants for solid waste disposal facilities in Oklahoma. Permits are handled by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Principal authors of the bill, which now goes to the House, are Giles and Rep. M.C. Leist, D-Morris.

The bill thoroughly defines the term waste "transfer station" to mean any disposal site, processing facility or other place where solid waste is transferred from a vehicle or container to another one for transport.

This could include a barge or railroad unloading facility.

The bill would make it illegal to operate a disposal site without a permit for solid or hazardous waste disposal, or merely to dump wastes at an unpermitted place.

Applications for land disposal site permits would have to include a closure plan, to be conducted in phases. Financial assurances would have to be posted in an adequate amount to cover the estimated cost of closure.

The bill was amended to raise the per-ton disposal fee for certain wastes from out-of-state from $1.50 to $5 a ton. Included are sludge and biomedical waste. Currently, the fee is $1.50 across the board, and the in-state fee would remain at that.

Senate Bill 643, passed 43-0, would establish a program to give product development assistance to Oklahoma manufacturing and marketing businesses.

Co-authored by Sens. Don Williams, D-Balko, Robert Kerr, D-Altus, and Don McCorkell, D-Tulsa, the measure now goes to the House.

Under the bill, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce would catalogue Oklahoma businesses that were interested in expanding by the commercialization of new products.

The department would identify new product opportunities on a worldwide basis for Oklahoma businesses, and would assist in making new products available to state businesses. …

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