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      RS 30:4.1     


§4.1. Underground injection control

            A. The following definitions shall apply where used in this Section:

            (1) "Commercial operations" as defined in this Section pertains to those who dispose of hazardous waste materials off the site where produced by others. "Hazardous Waste materials" is defined as any material so identified or designated under La. R.S. 30:2173, excluding drilling muds, produced waters and crude oil residues, for which no use or reuse is intended and which is to be discarded.

            (2) "Disposal" means the discharge, deposit, injection, dumping, spilling, leaking, or placing of any hazardous waste into or on any land or water so that such waste, or any constituent thereof, may enter the environment or be emitted into the air or discharged into any waters, including ground waters.

            (3) "Hazardous waste" means any waste, or combination of wastes, which because of its quantity, concentration, physical, chemical, or infectious characteristics may (a) cause or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible or incapacitating reversible illness or (b) pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, disposed of, or otherwise managed. Such definition shall be applied only to those wastes identified and designated as such by the department under the provisions of La. R.S. 30:2173, consistent with applicable federal laws and regulations.

            (4) "Person" means any natural person, corporation, association, partnership, receiver, tutor, curator, executor, administrator, fiduciary, or representative of any kind, including any governmental unit, whether federal, state, or local.

            B. The assistant secretary of the office of conservation of the Department of Energy and Natural Resources, hereafter referred to as the "assistant secretary", shall have authority to make, after notice and hearings as provided in this Chapter, any reasonable rules, regulations, and orders that are necessary from time to time in the proper administration and enforcement of this Section, including but not limited to rules, regulations, or orders for the following purposes:

            (1) To regulate, by rules, the drilling, casing, cementing, disposal interval, monitoring, plugging, and permitting of disposal wells which are used to inject hazardous waste products in the subsurface, and to regulate all surface and storage waste facilities incidental to oil and gas exploration and production, in such a manner as to prevent the escape of such hazardous waste product into a fresh groundwater aquifer or into oil or gas strata; may require the plugging of each abandoned well or each well which is of no further use and the closure of associated pits, the removal of equipment, structures, and trash, and the general site cleanup of such abandoned or unused well sites; and may require reasonable bond with security for the performance of the duty to plug each abandoned well or each well which is of no further use and to perform the site cleanup required by this Section. Only an owner as defined in R.S. 30:3(8) shall be held or deemed responsible for the performance of any actions required by the commissioner.

            (2) To require by rule that before a permit to operate a new commercial operations' hazardous waste disposal well may be granted, a public hearing shall be held on the application for a permit, and shall fix the date, time, and place therefor. The operator or owner, prior to such public hearing, shall give public notice on three separate days within a period of thirty days prior to the public hearing, with at least five days between each publication of the notice, both in the official state journal and in the official journal of the parish in which the well is to be located, that application for a permit for a new commercial operations' hazardous waste disposal well has been made and that a public hearing on the matter will be held on the date and at the time and place which shall be stated in the public notice. The assistant secretary shall prescribe the form of the advertisement. In addition, the applicant for a permit shall place an advertisement in the same newspapers, but not in the classified advertisement or public notice section of the newspapers, in a form which shall be not less than one-half page in size and printed in bold face type; which shall inform the public that application for a permit has been made for a new commercial operations' hazardous waste disposal well and that a public hearing, at which all interested persons are charged to be present and to present their views and which shall state the date, time, and place at which the meeting will be held. The content of both the public notice and the one-half page announcement or advertisement also shall include the name of the owner or operator, location of the proposed well, materials to be disposed in the well, a statement that comments may be sent to the assistant commissioner of the Office of Conservation prior to the public meeting, and the mailing address of the assistant secretary.

            C.(1) No person shall inject, pump, dispose, or in any manner allow the escape of any hazardous waste into any well or underground strata by way of an injection well without obtaining a permit from the assistant secretary or in violation of any permit issued by the assistant secretary; or violate any rule, regulation, or order of the assistant secretary issued under the authority of this Section.

            (2) The assistant secretary shall not issue any new permit for a previously unpermitted Class I well for the disposal of hazardous waste as defined in the comprehensive state hazardous waste control program, provided for in R.S. 30:2175, which previously produced or was drilled for the purpose of producing oil or gas, whether oil or gas was actually produced therein. Where a new permit has been issued for such a Class I well for disposal of hazardous waste, the assistant secretary shall immediately proceed to revoke such permit, giving notice and upon request, an opportunity for the parties to be heard, and set a schedule for the abandonment and closure of the well, in accordance with rules and regulations of the office of conservation. No later than November 15, 1985, the assistant secretary shall order the cessation of injection and issue an order for closure which shall be completed within one hundred twenty days of the order.

            D. Whenever the assistant secretary or an authorized representative of the assistant secretary determines that a violation of any requirement of this Section has occurred or is about to occur, the assistant secretary or the authorized representative of the assistant secretary shall either issue an order requiring compliance within a specified time period or shall commence a civil action for appropriate relief, including a temporary or permanent injunction.

            E. Requirements of compliance orders. Any order issued under this Section shall state with reasonable specificity the nature of the violation and specify a time for compliance and, in the event of noncompliance, assess a civil penalty, if any, which the assistant secretary determines is reasonable, taking into account the seriousness of the violation and any good faith efforts to comply with the applicable requirements.

            F. Penalties. (1) Except as otherwise provided by law, any person to whom a compliance order or a cease and desist order is issued and who fails to take corrective action within the time specified and said order or any person found by the assistant secretary to be in violation of any requirement of this Section, may be liable for a civil penalty, to be assessed by the assistant secretary or court, of not more than twenty-five thousand dollars for each day of the continued noncompliance or violation. The assistant secretary in order to enforce the provisions of this Section may suspend or revoke any permit, compliance order, license, or variance which has been issued to said person.

            (2) No penalty shall be assessed until the person charged shall have been given notice and an opportunity for a hearing on such charge. In determining whether or not a civil penalty is to be assessed and in determining the amount of the penalty, or the amount agreed upon in compromise, the gravity of the violation and the demonstrated good faith of the person charged in attempting to achieve rapid compliance, after notification of a violation, shall be considered. In the event that the order with which the person failed to comply was an emergency cease and desist order, no penalty shall be assessed if it appears, upon later hearing, that said order was issued without reasonable cause.

            G. Criminal penalties. Except as otherwise provided by law, any person who willfully or knowingly discharges, emits, or disposes of any hazardous wastes in contravention of any provisions of this Section or of the regulations, or permit or license terms and conditions in pursuance thereof, shall be fined not more than twenty-five thousand dollars per day of violation and costs of prosecution, or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both and in such instances the prosecution may be instituted by the district attorney having criminal jurisdiction. No district attorney nor the attorney general shall institute any criminal prosecution for a violation of any provision of this Section against any person while such person, with respect to the same violation, is: (1) under any order issued pursuant to this Section to enforce any provision of this Chapter, or (2) a defendant in any civil suit brought under the provisions of this Section, or (3) the subject of an action to assess and collect a civil penalty.

            H. Civil Actions. The attorney general shall have charge of and shall prosecute all civil cases arising out of violation of any provision of this Section including the recovery of penalties.

            I. Settlement of suits. Except as otherwise provided herein, the assistant secretary, with the concurrence of the attorney general, may settle or resolve as he may deem advantageous to the state any suits, disputes, or claims for any penalty under any provisions of this Section or the regulations or permit license terms and conditions applicable thereto.

            J. Application. The provisions of this Section shall only apply to the underground injection of hazardous wastes as identified and designated under the provision of La. R.S. 30:1133.

            K. The commissioner shall not authorize or issue any permit which allows the use or withdrawal of three million gallons or more of ground water per day from the Chicot aquifer that shall be injected into the subsurface in a parish whose population is more than seventy thousand and less than seventy-five thousand.

            Acts 1981, No. 389, §1; Acts 1985, No. 609, §1, eff. July 16, 1985; Acts 1990, No. 192, §1; Acts 2008, No. 241, §1; Acts 2023, No. 150, §5, eff. Jan. 10, 2024.

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