Technical Guidance Memorandum 01-1 Revised Record Management Procedures
Public Notice of Adoption - Technical Guidance Memorandum
April 4, 2001
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ("NYSDEC") Division of Mineral Resources hereby notices final adoption of Technical Guidance Memorandum ("TGM") No. MN 01-1, entitled "Revised Records Management Procedures for Well Logs and Plugged Well Files." The primary purpose of TGM No. MN 01-1 is to establish technical guidance and documentation for procedures implemented to transfer custody of certain existing and future records for wells regulated under the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (Article 23 of the Environmental Conservation Law ("ECL")) from the Albany office of the Division of Mineral Resources to the New York State Museum's Center for Stratigraphy and Paleontology ("CSP"). The effective date of TGM MN 01-1 coincides with this publication date. The final TGM is shown in its entirety below.
Contact: Mr. Peter Briggs, Chief, Permits Section, Division of Mineral Resources, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-6500, or by e-mail to email@example.com
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Mineral Resources
Technical Guidance Memorandum ("TGM") No. MN 01-1
Revised Records Management Procedures for Well Logs and Plugged Well Files
The purpose of this memorandum is to establish technical guidance and documentation for procedures implemented to transfer custody of certain existing and future records for wells regulated under the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (Article 23 of the Environmental Conservation Law ("ECL")) from the Albany office of the Division of Mineral Resources to the New York State Museum's Center for Stratigraphy and Paleontology ("CSP"). These procedures, which involve both releasable and confidential records for existing and future wells, are necessary because of the reduced file space available in new Department headquarters to be located at 625 Broadway in Albany.
ECL Article 23 and 6 NYCRR Parts 550 - 559 require that certain records for regulated wells be submitted to the Department. These include permit applications, plats, completion reports, notices of intention to plug, plugging reports and well logs. Well files may also contain inspection reports and other well-specific data compiled by Division staff. Within the Division of Mineral Resources, well files and logs for wells located in the Department's Region 9 are maintained in the Department's Allegany Regional Sub-Office. Records for wells located in Regions 6 - 8 are maintained in the Department's Avon Regional Office. Duplicate copies of the Region 6 - 9 well records have historically been maintained in the Central Office, along with records for wells in Regions 1 - 5. Pursuant to ECL §23-0305(8)(i) and §23-0305(14)(i), duplicate copies of records and reports for wells statewide are furnished by the Division to the CSP for the state geologist. ECL §23-0313 governs the releasabililty of these records. Previous technical guidance pertinent to handling well records includes TGM 87-1 and TGM 90-3.
Central Office well files are inventoried in the "files" table in the Division's oil and gas database. On December 21, 2000, the database indicated that the Central Office possessed files on approximately 29,000 wells and logs for about 10,000 wells. Well files, not including logs, are typically less than one inch thick. Any given well may be represented by from one to a dozen separate logs, requiring as much as a foot of storage space per well. Because of their bulk, releasable logs are filed in separate cabinets from the well files.
Recently, the most frequent use of well files and logs stored in the Central Office has been to respond to Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL") requests that range in scope from single-well information requests to requests for all records for all wells in a multi-county area. These requests occur in the form of office visits, e-mail messages, phone calls and letters. In addition, technical staff periodically reference the records - specifically completion or plugging reports and well logs - for project reviews in program areas such as underground gas storage permitting and well spacing. Information in files is also useful for various other program areas, such as enforcement support, complaint response and technical assistance.
The pending move of Department headquarters from 50 Wolf Road to 625 Broadway results in significantly reduced records storage space. As part of its Records Management Initiative, the Division of Mineral Resources determined that it was not feasible to move the complete set of well logs to either 625 Broadway or to the Records Center. In addition, suggestions were advanced for reducing the space required for well files. The Division involved the CSP in the discussions, and the CSP agreed to take custody of the following Central Office records where required to complete its existing collections:
- Logs for wells in Regions 6 - 9.
- Files for wells plugged longer than 3 years in Regions 6 - 9.
The agreements reached between the Division and the CSP regarding transfer of these records and access to them are memorialized in the attached letters exchanged between Kathleen Sanford and Richard Nyahay on September 29 and December 5, 2000.
By December 21, 2000, the Division had transferred all Central Office logs for 585 wells to the CSP. These wells are denoted by an "M" in the "logs" field of the "files" database table. In addition to the agreements stated in the attached correspondence, the CSP has also agreed to return Division logs to the Avon office that the Regional Minerals Manager identifies are needed to fill gaps in the files maintained by that office. Finally with respect to logs, the CSP is presently reviewing its log sets for deep wells in Region s 6 - 9, and the Division has agreed to provide specific logs from the Central Office collection, if available, that the CSP identifies are needed to complete its sets.
Regarding plugged well records, once needed files have been provided to the Department's Allegany and Avon offices, the remaining files described by item 2 will be transferred to the CSP.
- Effective immediately, the number of copies of logs that well owners for wells in Regions 6 - 9 are required to submit pursuant to 6 NYCRR 554.7(b) is reduced to two. Regional office staff will no longer send copies of logs for wells in Regions 6 - 9 to the Central Office.
- For wells in Regions 6 - 9, regional office staff will continue to send copies of permit applications, permits, plats, completion reports, notices of intent to plug, and plugging reports to the Central Office.
- Effective immediately, the number of copies of logs and completion reports that well owners for wells in Regions 1 - 5 must submit to the Central Office pursuant to 6 NYCRR 554.7(a) & (b) is reduced to two. The Central Office will continue to maintain well files and logs for wells in Regions 1 - 5.
- All well logs submitted to the Department pursuant to 6 NYCRR 554.7(b) are subject to the procedures for public access set forth in ECL §23-0313(d). Division staff will continue to follow the procedures outlined in Section II of TGM 90-3 for tracking confidential status of logs and completion reports and for transmitting copies of those records to the CSP in the New York State Museum. Specifically, completion reports and logs will be transmitted to the CSP at the end of the initial six-month confidentiality period, regardless of whether extended confidential status has been requested and/or granted. Confidential records will be labeled as such when transmitted, with the release date clearly indicated.
- Well logs submitted to the Department that are not submitted pursuant to 6 NYCRR 554.7(b) but are instead provided for a specific project review (e.g., underground storage application, well spacing) may, depending on the nature and purpose of the logs, be subject to confidential status beyond that set forth in ECL §23-0313(1)(d) in accordance with the trade secret provisions of §87-2 of the Public Officer's Law ("POL") and 6 NYCRR 616.7. These logs will be maintained in the appropriate project files, with copies provided to the CSP upon request on a case-specific basis. Trade secret status of any such logs transmitted to the CSP will be clearly indicated.
- Division staff will copy the CSP on all correspondence affecting the confidential or trade-secret status of any well logs and other trade secret materials sent to the CSP by the Division or by others at the Division's direction.
- The Central Office will transfer files for wells in Regions 6 - 9 that have been plugged longer than three years to the CSP on an ongoing basis. With respect to such wells, Regional Staff will provide copies of records via mail or fax to Central Office staff upon request when needed for specific projects.
- Central Office staff will continue to respond to FOIL requests for logs and well files as long as they remain in possession. For logs and files no longer located in the Central Office, Albany staff's response to any FOIL request will be limited to referring the requestor to the CSP and to the appropriate region.
- In addition to public notice of this guidance, the Division will update pages posted on its website to reflect that well logs and certain files are no longer available for public inspection in the Division's Albany office, but are available at the CSP and the appropriate Regional Office.
- Once the CSP's needs with respect to logs are fulfilled, the Division will select a repository for the remainder of logs for wells in Regions 6 through 9 presently on file in the Central Office. Selection will be based upon responses to a forthcoming Request for Proposals to be published in the Department's Environmental Notice Bulletin.
Division staff in both the Regional and Central Offices continue to be responsible for maintaining confidential status and ensuring security of those logs and files in their possession that are withheld from public disclosure pursuant to ECL §23-0313(1)(d), POL §87-2 of the Public Officer's Law, and 6 NYCRR 616.7, and for clearly labeling such logs and files as confidential upon transmittal between offices and to the CSP.
Division staff in both the Regional and Central Offices continue to be responsible for responding appropriately and in accordance with applicable statutes and regulations to FOIL requests for logs and files that are in their possession.
Division staff in both the Regional and Central Offices are responsible for copying the CSP on all correspondence affecting the confidential or trade-secret status of any well logs and other trade secret materials sent to the CSP by the Division or by others at the Division's direction.
Regional staff will continue to receive paperwork and logs from well owners in their respective jurisdictions, and will distribute them to the Central Office and/or the CSP as described above.
Division staff in Albany will carry out the following tasks:
- Continue to receive paperwork and logs for wells in Regions 1 -5 and oversee Office Management Section staff in maintaining files for those wells in the Central Office as well as transmitting copies to the CSP. (The Office Management Section will continue current procedures for receiving and maintaining files on wells in Regions 6 - 9.)
- Continue to supervise and document transfer of logs and plugged well files to the Regional Offices and the CSP.
- Develop procedures for ongoing transmittal of plugged well files to the CSP as described by item H above, and oversee Office Management Section staff in implementing those procedures. Program Management Section Staff will assist as needed with development of a periodic database query to identify records for transfer.
- Identify pages on the Department's website which need to be revised as described by item J above.
- Construct and distribute the Request for Proposals cited by item K above, evaluate the responses, and recommend a repository to Division management.
- Plan and carry out public notice and distribution of this guidance.