Retrospective examination of geothermal environmental assessments

Webb, J. Warren
Eddlemon, Gerald K.
Reed, Andrea W.
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Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Since 1976, the Department of Energy (DOE) has supported a variety of programs and projects dealing with the exploration, development, and utilization of geothermal energy. This report presents an overview of the environmental impacts associated with these efforts. Impacts that were predicted in the environmental analyses prepared for the programs and projects are reviewed and summarized, along with measures that were recommended to mitigate these impacts. Also, for those projects that have gone forward, actual impacts and implemented mitigation measures are reported, based on telephone interviews with DOE and project personnel. An accident involving spills of geothermal fluids was the major environmental concern associated with geothermal development. Other important considerations included noise from drilling and production, emissions of H/sub 2/S and cooling tower drift, disposal of solid waste (e.g., from H/sub 2/S control), and the cumulative effects of geothermal development on land use and ecosystems. Mitigation measures were frequently recommended and implemented in conjunction with noise reduction; drift elimination; reduction of fugitive dust, erosion, and sedimentation; blowout prevention; and retention of wastes and spills. Monitoring to resolve uncertainties was often implemented to detect induced seismicity and subsidence, noise, drift deposition, concentrations of air and water pollutants, and effects on groundwater. The document contains an appendix, based on these findings, which outlines major environmental concerns, mitigation measures, and monitoring requirements associated with geothermal energy. Sources of information on various potential impacts are also listed.
Report Number: ORNL/TM-9071; OSTI ID: 5058035; Legacy ID: DE84010615; Other: ON: DE84010615
environmental, permitting, groundwater, socioeconomics, air quality, Hawaii, Kilauea
Webb JW, Eddlemon GK, Reed AW. 1984. Retrospective Examination of Geothermal Environmental Assessments. (TN): Oak Ridge National Lab.
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