A Look At Pennsylvania's Abandoned Wells

  • Scott Detrow

The Tribune-Review takes a look at the link between Marcellus Shale drilling and old, abandoned wells:

Today the latest gas-drilling rush in the Marcellus shale may bring an opportunity to plug many of those old wells, but it also brings the risk that old wells could create a path for gas and chemicals to migrate into soil and water.
“The whole area up here is like Swiss cheese,” said Weltner, 80, secretary-treasurer of Belmar Association Inc., which operates the treatment system. “It just has holes through all the different strata in the ground, so there’s an awful lot of opportunities for contamination of the groundwater. And I think a lot of people are concerned about it, and a lot more communities are getting a public system” to replace water wells.
Most of the state’s abandoned wells are in Western Pennsylvania. They arc though McKean, Venango and Butler counties and, in smaller clusters, around the Pittsburgh area.
Unplugged wells pose risks of illegal dumping, water pollution, cave-ins, gas seepage and even explosions, but the state can afford to plug only about 130 a year. At that rate, it could take the state more than 61 years to plug the 8,262 remaining wells that officials know about, and more than 1,350 years to plug the rest — if crews could find them.

Up Next

EPA Chief Says More Data Needed on Dimock's Water