The Trillion-Gallon Loophole: Lax Rules for Drillers that Inject Pollutants into the Earth

In January 2003, two tanker trucks backed up to an injection well site in a pasture outside Rosharon, Texas. There, under a steel shed, they began to unload thousands of gallons of wastewater for burial deep beneath the earth. The waste – the byproduct of oil and gas drilling – was described in regulatory documents as a benign mixture of salt and water. As the liquid rushed from the trucks, it released a billowing vapor of far more volatile materials, including benzene and other flammable hydrocarbons. ProPublica analyzed records summarizing more than 220,000 well inspections conducted between late 2007 and late 2010, including more than 194,000 for Class 2 wells. The examination shows that, amid growing use of Class 2 wells, fundamental safeguards are sometimes being ignored or circumvented.
Propublica Exit NIEHS Website [Author: Abrahm Lustgarten]
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