EPA modifies engine replacement rules in U.S. water well drilling rigs

Ground Water Canada
April 02, 2014
By Ground Water Canada
April 2, 2014, Westerville, OH – U.S. EPA has modified its final rules to allow the use of new exempt engines to replace failed engines in water well drilling rigs up to 40 years old. 
 
"The revised rule is a major improvement over EPA's previous proposal," said Denis Crayon, National Ground Water Association's DOT-OSHA subcommittee chair, in a press release. EPA's initial proposal required that a new engine meeting current emission standards be used in the case of engine failure on water well drilling rigs older than 25 years. Depending on the make and model, there are physical and performance issues in bringing specialized water well drilling equipment up to Tier 4 engine standards. NGWA estimates that approximately 30 per cent of water well drilling rigs would have had problems meeting EPA's initial proposal.
 
"Through photos and other communication, NGWA was able to explain the inability, in some cases, to switch out old engines with new Tier 4 engines, and maintain transportation and drilling capability," shared Fred McAninch, the Rig Doctor and an NGWA DOT-OSHA subcommittee member, in the statement. NGWA also explained to the agency that, unlike some other industries, the use of equipment older than 25 years is not unusual in the water well industry.
 
The ability to use new exempt engines as a replacement for failing engines in rigs up to 40 years old allows the water well drilling industry to improve air quality while maintaining business operations.
 
A copy of the final rule is available by going to the Federal Register, Volume 79, page 7077. Industry members are advised to consult with applicable state rules, such as in California, for any additional state level requirements.   

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