PA DEP awards contract to plug eight abandoned oil wells in Armstrong County

Orphan wells threaten public health, drinking water supplies. Another contract is awarded to reclaim abandoned mine in same county for similar reasons. In all nearly $1 million is commited to effort by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which is using announcements to again support Growing Greener bond vote May 17...

May 11th, 2005

HARRISBURG, PA, May 11, 2005 (PRNewswire) -- Pa. Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty announced a $40,000 contract to plug eight orphan oil wells on the M.J. Naser Property in Perry Township, Armstrong County, and reminded residents to make their voices heard on a $625 million ballot initiative designed to provide additional funding for similar environmental cleanup efforts across the Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania has the most abandoned wells in the Appalachian region and is one of the top five states nationally. The department has documented more than 8,000 orphaned and abandoned wells throughout the state. About 700 are leaking oil, acid mine drainage, ground water or gas. More abandoned and orphaned wells are located all the time.

"Abandoned oil and gas wells can pollute streams and drinking water supplies and in some situations pose dangers to nearby residents," McGinty said. "This is as much a public safety concern as it is an environmental issue. Because of the potential hazards, the Commonwealth actively pursues cleaning and plugging orphaned and abandoned wells to protect the nearby residents."

Since the first commercial oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 1859, DEP estimates as many as 350,000 oil and gas wells have been drilled in the Commonwealth, with many of those wells having been abandoned without proper plugging.

All eight of the wells at the Perry Township site are estimated to be 1,000 feet deep. The contract to clean and plug the wells was awarded to Fawnwood Energy Inc. of Bruin, Butler County. The project should be completed by mid-September.

Funds for well plugging come from Growing Greener grants and from surcharges on well-drilling permits issued in Pennsylvania.

McGinty went on to say Gov. Ed Rendell's Growing Greener II initiative will provide significant funding to continue the cleanup of these orphaned and abandoned wells and improve the health of Pennsylvania's 83,161 miles of waterways, many of which are polluted by leaking oil and gas wells, acidic mine drainage and other problems.

The General Assembly last month agreed with the Governor's efforts by approving a $625 million bond question to improve the state's economic and environmental health. The bond question will appear on the May 17 primary election ballot.

For more information, visit the department's Web site at www.dep.state.pa.us, Keyword: "DEP Oil and Gas."

In related news, see: "Contract to reclaim abandoned surface mine in Armstrong County awarded - PA DEP".

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