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Environment


Ohio Department of Natural Resources plans to fill orphan wells
The department has found more than 600 abandoned oil and gas wells and plans to fill 100 a year
by WKSU's ANDY CHOW


Reporter
Andy Chow
 
In The Region:
Hundreds of thousands of oil and gas wells have been drilled in Ohio since the Civil War. Before revamped regulations, some companies would abandon the wells without properly closing them. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, a state agency is now ramping up its efforts to plug the wells.
LISTEN: Key to fixing orphan wells problem is locating them

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The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has found more than 600 abandoned oil and gas wells, also known as orphan wells, around the state. The wells date as far back as the 1890’s and some fear they could pose a threat to water and public safety. 

Mark Bruce, a spokesperson for ODNR, says the department hopes to start plugging about 100 orphan wells a year. But he says the key to fixing the orphan-well problem is knowing where they are. 

“We need assistance from the public. We need people who may own land somewhere in the state of Ohio may visit a neighbors farm or hike in a woods somewhere if they see something that they believe is an oil and gas well—they need them to contact our division so we can find out if in fact that is an orphan well and if it does qualify for our program.” 

The General Assembly recently increased funding to ODNR’s orphan well program. Bruce says modern day drilling regulations prevent any new abandoned wells.
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