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LA Times: California will cap hundreds of orphaned oil wells, some long suspected of causing illness

1 min read

California state regulators announced this week their plans to cap orphaned oil wells across the state, including wells in a South Central Los Angeles residential neighborhood near USC that caused health complaints from residents for years. Nathan Solis and Christian Martinez write for the LA Times.

In a nutshell:

The team reports that it's an effort by the state to deal once and for all with abandoned oil and gas sites, which leak methane and hazardous chemicals into the air, soil and groundwater. These so-called "orphaned" wells posed health risks for years, often in disadvantaged communities. California has identified some 5,300 abandoned wells.

Key quote:

“This list includes leaking wells with serious compliance issues that have concerned communities for years,” David Shabazian, director of the state Department of Conservation, said in a news release.

Big picture:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates the number of abandoned wells nationwide to be in the millions, with at least 300,000 to 800,000 still undocumented, according to reporting earlier this year by The Washington Post. Many residences and other developments are built over abandoned oil and gas sites, often without the knowledge of the developer or owner.

Last year the Biden administration announced a $4.7 billion program to clean up abandoned wells across the country under the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. That's likely to be a drop in the bucket: A 2020 report found it would cost more than half a billion dollars to clean up California's abandoned wells alone.

Read the full LA Times story here.

About the author(s):

EHN Staff

Articles written and posted by staff at Environmental Health News

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