The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection alerted the press that they have hired a contractor to plug an abandoned well in the residential area of Moon Township, Allegheny County. This action is being taken to prevent "potential gas migration" from an abandoned well that is currently releasing natural gas into the air.
The well is to be plugged by today (weather permitting maybe?). According to the DEP press release:
"The work, which is being performed under an emergency contract with Hydrocarbon Well Services of Buckhannon, WV, will protect the public by preventing gas from migrating through the soils and away from the well. There is no indication that the well poses a risk to area residents or to children attending the nearby J.A. Allard Elementary School, but until the work is completed, DEP advises the public to keep a safe distance from the well."
A property owner discovered the well last fall when he was clearing brush from the area. At that time DEP inspected the area and put the well on a list of abandoned wells to be plugged. But since February 6, residents have been calling DEP with numerous odor complaints. DEP inpsectors revisited the well and discovered that a hole had been eroded into the casing, allowing the release of pressurized gas.
DPE spokesperson Helen Humphreys noted that because abandoned wells can cause many problems, the Oil and Gas Act of 1984 requires well operators to plug non-producing wells. "However," she told the press, "many wells were abandoned prior to when state regulations took effect." So the state legislature amended the Oil and Gas Act in 1992 to allow wells abandoned before April 1985 to be classified as “orphan” wells. That gives DEP the authority - and the financial means - to plug them.
For more information, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us or call 412-442-4000.