In a press release today EPA reports the agency has plugged close to 300 abandoned – and in some cases leaking – oil wells in Western New York. This was part of an effort to prevent any remaining oil that may be in the wells from reaching nearby lakes, rivers and streams. The abandoned wells, many of which no longer have owners, have not been maintained for decades, reported the EPA. The wells were deteriorating to the point at which crude oil could leak from broken well casings, pipes and storage tanks. To prevent future leaks, EPA has had the wells filled with concrete and a fine clay substance called bentonite to immobilize any remaining oil.
“Oil is one of the worst water pollutants, and the abandoned oil wells like the ones that EPA has cleaned up represent a threat to our most vital natural resource – clean water,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “By plugging hundreds of abandoned oil wells, we’re protecting public health and the environment, and fixing a problem that had been decades in the making.”
Since 2005, EPA has overseen the plugging of 294 wells at six locations in western NY:
136 wells plugged at the Curtis Farm Oil Wells Site in Bolivar near the Little Genesee Creek, a tributary of the Allegheny River.
91 wells plugged at the West Union Oil Wells Site in West Union, near the New York/Pennsylvania border in Steuben County. Areas from which contaminated soil was removed were filled with clean soil. Students from SUNY-Brockport helped replace native plants that were damaged or destroyed during the removal.
34 wells at the Weston Lot 7 Oil Wells Site in Olean, which borders Mix Creek, a tributary of the Allegheny River.
31 wells at the Ballard Oil Lease Site in Bolivar, near the Little Genesee Creek.
1 well at the Dodge Creek Oil Well Site in Clarksville, bordering Dodge Creek, a tributary of the Allegheny River. Dodge Creek is a trout habitat and home to the Eastern Hellbender salamander, a species of listed special concern in New York State.
1 well at the McGraw One Oil Well Site in West Union, near Marsh Creek, a tributary of the Genesee River.
Later this summer, EPA will oversee the plugging of abandoned wells on the Burrows Oil Lease Site in Olean. The site comprises 13 crude oil production wells, some of which are leaking or show evidence of past leakage. The site borders Mix Creek, a tributary of the Allegheny River.