The Clean Water Issues Group addresses issues concerning regulations dealing with potential industry impacts on surface water quality, including effluents to surface water controlled under EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program.
These efforts include:
- assessing the cost and strategies for complying with EPA's new Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program,
- identifying the impact and evaluating the treatability of trace metals in refinery effluents,
- providing guidance for establishment of site-specific water quality criteria for nutrients,
- identifying practical procedures for setting analytical quantification limits for reporting trace pollutant concentrations in water,
- evaluating procedures for establishing discharge limits based on pollutant concentration limits in ambient fish tissue rather than in the water column,
- assessing the impact of new effluent guidelines for cooling water intakes, including the feasibility and cost of achieving flow reduction commensurate with complete cooling water recirculation,
- developing ambient water quality criteria to protect aquatic life from exposure to MTBE,
- examining the determination and use of fish consumption advisories, and
- investigating the water quality criteria for metals.
Production Effluent Guideline Task Force
The main focus of the Production Effluent Guidelines Task Force is on the environmental aspects of discharges associated with exploration and production activities, the "upstream" segment of the oil and natural gas industry. Effluent guidelines are technology-based regulatory limits on the concentration of pollutants discharged from industrial operations. When applied to the upstream segment of the petroleum industry, these address technologies that remove pollutants, such as oils and drilling materials, from the waste streams.
The Task Force oversees projects that:
- monitor the development and impact of effluent guidelines,
- evaluate treatment technology performance,
- develop and validate analytical methods for detecting and measuring pollutants,
- evaluate toxicity of selected pollutants on aquatic organisms, and
- model dispersion of effluents in the water column from offshore production platforms or drilling rigs.
The members of this Task Force are currently working with the Offshore Operators Committee (a non-API committee), the Minerals Management Service, as well as other industry and government organizations to determine research needs related to exploration and production activities in deep waters.
Upstream Water Issues Group
The Upstream Water Issues Group addresses issues concerning water regulations affecting the oil extraction sector of the petroleum industry. These efforts include:
- identifying content of waters regulated under the Clean Water Act,
- assessing compliance practices for meeting cooling water intake effluent guidelines on offshore platforms, and,
- evaluating EPA's assessment of the Coal Bed Methane industry for possible development of effluent guidelines.
Soils and Groundwater Technical Group
The API Soil and Groundwater Technical Group is the focus for subsurface research within API. Made up of representatives from more than 12 oil companies, it provides an expert, multidisciplinary focal point for soil and ground water issues identified by API committees.
Their primary role is to develop and manage research projects that improve approaches to understanding, restoring and protecting ground water quality. The task force is also charged with disseminating the findings of such research through its publications, technical presentations, and sponsorship of conferences. These efforts include:
- MTBE Resource Center to provide information related this oxygenate;
- Light Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (LNAPL) Resource Center, with technical material to assist in clean-up of petroleum hydrocarbons in shallow subsurface soils;
- Ethanol Resource Center to provide information concerning this material;
- Modeling vapor intrusion of petroleum containments into basements
- Soil and Groundwater Research Bulletins.