Geothermal/Air Quality

From Open Energy Information

Geothermal Air Quality

Air Quality
Present, Potentially Affected

In the United States, air quality is regulated by the Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) pursuant to the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. §7401 et seq.)

The Clean Air Act requires:

  • EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment. 42 U.S.C. §7409(a). The EPA has set primary and secondary NAAQS for six principal pollutants, called “criteria” pollutants. These “criteria” pollutants include ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and lead.
  • States to develop State Implementation Plans (SIPs) to attain and maintain the federally established NAAQS. 42 U.S.C. §7410. These plans are developed by state and local air quality management agencies and submitted to EPA for approval.
  • The EPA to regulate emissions of toxic air pollutants from certain industrial sources, referred to as “source categories.” 42 U.S.C. §7412.

The EPA has set National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) for all major sources of air toxics. 42 U.S.C. §7412. States may set their own toxic air pollutant standards, however they may not fall short of the federal standards. 42 U.S.C. §7412(d)(7).

Note: The National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) houses a database to find the city, county, state, and federal regulations and office contact information.

Air Quality Impacts & Mitigation

Hydrogen Sulfide: (H2S) is a hazardous and deadly chemical found in well testing. To find H2S saturation levels, measure the underground water temperature, how fast the water is flowing, and the pressure before testing a well. This information can predict the concentration and duration of H2S. Mitigation of this gas includes purchasing Stretford and LO-CAT systems to convert 99.9% of hydrogen sulfide into “elemental sulfur”. This element can then be sold as a supplement to fertilizer companies.

“Fugitive dust” or “gravel grinding”: This is often found during the construction phase of a project when heavy machinery is operated. The following practices mitigate dust and gravel :

  • Re-grade the dirt surface area and water down transportation areas.
  • Enforce an on-site speed limit, and reduce idle times to maximize equipment usage times.
  • Apply non-toxic soil stabilizers or hydro seed in areas of inactivity (10+ days).

Paint: The paint found on the exterior of pipes could contain VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) such as methylene chloride or paint fumes. To mitigate these fumes, ventilate the area before painting. Not all paint will pose long-term air quality threats. To best assess the situation, determine the duration, concentration, and chemical structure of the paint before citing it as a major source of air pollution.