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HPPR Environment

After oil bust, High Plains sees a surge in abandoned oil wells

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Rafael Aguilera
/
Texas Tribune

In the wake of the collapse in oil prices over the past several years, Texas and Oklahoma have seen a different kind of boom. In these states, there’s been a surge in abandoned oil drilling sites.

To make matters worse, the areas that generally have abandoned rigs generally don’t have the funds to clean the sites. As The Texas Tribune reports, wildcatters have been punching holes in the hard West Texas caliche for almost a century.

Over the past 26 years, Texas has drilled than 1.5 million oil and gas-related holes in the ground. Some of these yielded no oil, others ran dry. But the dry holes do yield another byproduct: pollution. They can produce oil, brackish water, and other pernicious substances.

But the biggest threat occurs when underground toxic materials from these holes leak into aquifers and other water sources.