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EPA Cracks Down On Vehicle Waste Disposal Wells

December 7, 1999

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Citing potential risk to underground sources of drinking water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has imposed new restrictions on Class V injection wells including motor vehicle waste disposal wells, large capacity cesspools, storm water drainage wells, and large capacity septic systems.

Class V wells are typically shallow disposal systems where a variety of fluids are placed below the land surface. Service stations and repair shops often use injection wells to dispose of non-hazardous wastes. EPA estimates that some 600,000 Class V wells exist around the country, often in areas where the population depends on ground water as a drinking water source. Class V wells are currently authorized as long as they don’t endanger underground sources of drinking water.
The new rules impose a nationwide ban on new waste disposal wells effective April 5, 2000. Requirements for existing wells depend on condition of the well and its location.
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act the states must identify areas that are sources of drinking water and, to the extent possible, identify origins of contaminants.
The deadline for those assessments is January 2005. Owners of wells in ground water protection areas will have one year after the state assessment is complete to either close the well or obtain a permit. Owners of wells in areas designated as “sensitive” will have until January 2007 to comply.

Meantime, EPA says owners and operators of Class V wells should have already provided “inventory information” to Underground Injection Control program coordinators in the EPA region or state.
Final rules were published in the December 7 Federal Register. Information can also be
obtained on the EPA website (www.epa.gov) or by calling the Safe Drinking Water Hotline, (800) 426-4791.

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