Posted by Jeff on Dec 3rd 2020 at 7:04 am in Conservation | 0 comments | Last change: December 2nd, 2020
In 2018, more than 50,000 wells were on state purge lists nationwide, and states estimated that there were between 200,000 and 750,000 more abandoned wells that were not on their records. If you include wells that are “idle,” meaning they may still have an owner but haven’t produced oil or gas in years – and risk being pushed into government hands if their owners go bankrupt go – the number is 2.1 million, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
If wells are left unsealed, they can become routes for oil, gas, or salt water to migrate into groundwater and soil. The equipment is a hazard to wildlife, farm animals, and unsuspecting people. Another risk is increasingly being considered, however – an unknown number of unconnected wells are leaking methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is 86 times more effective than carbon dioxide in heating the planet for the first 20 years it is in the atmosphere. Methane can explode at high enough concentrations and is often accompanied by other chemicals dangerous to human health, such as benzene, a known carcinogen linked to leukemia and low birth weight.
Money is at the heart of the abandoned well problem. The number of wells is already well beyond what government budgets and labor can handle, and experts say they are on the verge of proliferation.
In recent years, nonprofits have emerged from oil and gas industry insiders to raise funds to close derelict oil and gas wells.
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