AP Investigation Reveals Abandoned Oil Wells In Gulf – Posing Risk Of Future Leaks


Despite the fact the BP Oil Disaster has now been raging for 79 days, the energy giant’s new July 27 timeline has given some a cause for optimism. However a new Associated Press investigation shows we might have some entirely new problems to worry about: 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico run the risk of “leaking even more crude into water already tainted by the massive BP spill.”

The Associated Press’ Jeff Donn told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteran that many wells have been abandoned since the 1940s:

“The oil industry finished exploring with them, finished producing with them. They are supposed to seal them. They submit paperwork, and then the paperwork is reviewed. The sealing work is never inspected by the government and then nobody–neither the government nor the industry–goes back to check whether the wells are leaking.”

Donn said “even federal regulators have admitted that abandoned wells do leak. They do deteriorate, they do leak eventually.”

So, who is in charge of monitoring this? The Minerals Management Agency, who, according to Van Susteran, have been “abject failures at best” and Congress–who is supposed to be paying attention to MMS.

Even to this day, Donn said there’s an assumption that if the paperwork is submitted and the well is sealed, “that’s good enough.” That reality is alarming at best.

Furthermore, the AP story mentions failed attempts to step up accountability:

The General Accountability Office, which investigates for Congress, warned in 1994 that leaks from offshore abandoned wells could cause an “environmental disaster.” The report stated: “MMS does not have an overall inspection strategy for targeting its limited resources to ensuring that wells are properly plugged and abandoned.”

The GAO report suggested MMS set up an inspection program, but the agency never did.

Naturally, environmental activists from various organizations are calling for extensive monitoring and inspecting. And when we’ve not yet figured out how to deal with the current disaster, doing everything in our power to prevent future ones sounds more than reasonable.

Watch Donn’s interview on Fox News below:

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