Responsible Drilling Alliance

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The Hazards Of Unplugged Wells

Save Our Streams PA would like to ask you to take a few minutes to consider the hazards and risks associated with unplugged oil and gas wells. To obtain more information, please visit the links provided here.  More importantly, I hope this letter will inspire you to take a few minutes to write to your state representatives1, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection2 (PADEP), the Technical Advisory Board2b ,your local municipal and county officials. Tell them that unplugged, abandoned wells near new drilling operations need to be plugged.

I am asking you to do this on behalf of all citizens who currently live in areas that have unplugged, abandoned wells,3 located throughout the historic oil and gas regions of Pennsylvania.

Where active drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations takes place in the vicinity of abandoned and unplugged wells4, the natural protections assumed to be provided by underground geology no longer exist because abandoned wells may act as direct pathways for methane to travel to the aquifer and surface. The presence of abandoned wells significantly heightens the risk of methane migration and contamination.

Lives have been lost, homes have exploded6, geysers have occurred7, and water sources have been contaminated8.  These events have been well documented by the PADEP9 and the news media.

We should not tolerate this. We need our elected officials to work diligently to address this problem.

This is not about stopping shale gas exploration.

This is not about politics.

This is about replacing the current plan, which allows oil and gas operators to plug nearby unplugged wells on a voluntary basis10, with a plan that requires operators to plug the abandoned and unplugged wells that are located near new drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations.

This is about being responsible.

This is about protecting the health and safety of citizens, public and private water sources, and the environment.

The Technical Advsory Board (TAB) recently proposed changes to: § 78.15 Application Requirements In the:Summary of Proposed Conceptual Changes Office of Oil and Gas Management (OOGM) Title 25 Pa. Code.12

One of TAB’s recommendations is to require operators to identify the locations of abandoned wells within 1,000 feet of the entire well bore length.  However, without a requirement to plug those wells, the risks remain.

It is imperative that citizens call for mandatory plugging of abandoned wells located near new drilling operations. Please, share this request with others, and write today! Tell Pennsylvania officials that these risks and not acceptable and that now is the time to take action to minimize the risks associated with abandoned wells.

Thank you,

Save Our Streams PA


2: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

2b: TAB member list:








11:Page 7; 2. Baseline Surveys: The review team also noted that DEP has not required operators to identify potential conduits for fluid migration (such as active and abandoned wells) in the area of hydraulic fracturing. The review team recommends that DEP consider whether there are areas or situations in which wells (active and abandoned) in the vicinity of hydraulic fracturing operations provide pathways for fluid movement into groundwater. In such areas or situations, DEP should require operators to identify and eliminate these potential pathways for fluid movement into groundwater before conducting hydraulic fracturing operations.

12: Technical Advisory Board member list:

Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission Office of the Governor 225 Main Capitol Building Harrisburg, PA 17120

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