Abandoned, old oil wells in and around Texas and Louisiana are beginning to wreak havoc on the environment.
In Fort Stockton, Texas, a cluster of old oil test wells have led to water spilling from deep aquifers. The pools of water have produced dead vegetation within a 30-foot radius. Since 2005, the water sprouting from the old oil well has engulfed the entire road.
At nearly 50 years old, the old oil well taps into the brackish San Andreas aquifer below the surface. Although the water below the surface measures at 9,000 total dissolved liquids (TDS), the water reaching the surface is measuring at a toxic 100,000 TDS. To put this in perspective, potable drinking water has a TDS rating under 1,000 while ocean water is 35,000 TDS.
According to some estimates, about 40 orphaned wells tap into the San Andreas aquifer. Each of these dormant wells could increase the risk of a sinkhole and thus increase the risk for groundwater contamination.
In 2010, an investigation by the Associated Press revealed that there were an estimated 27,000 abandoned oil wells in the gulf. Some environmentalists have estimated that there are more than two million abandoned oil and gas wells in the U.S.
In Texas, the Railroad Commission of Texas, estimated in 2009 that there were 110,000 abandoned oil wells in Texas alone.
While abandoned oil wells have been an issue since the beginning of oil drilling in the 1800s, inadequate sealing of the wells as well as poor oversight has led to serious environmental damage and dangers.
Abandoned oil wells often leak brine, oil and greenhouse gases into the environment. Furthermore, a leaking oil well can also impact marine life, mammals, birds and more.
Has your property been damaged as a result of an abandoned oil well? At Simien & Simien, our Baton Rouge oil and gas lawyers are experienced in handling these types of claims and can help you determine your legal options.