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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

DEP Hires Contractor to Quickly Plug Abandoned Oil Well Leaking Natural Gas

Action Will Prevent Potential Gas Migration in Residential Area of Moon Township

PITTSBURGH -- The Department of Environmental Protection announced today that it is acting immediately to plug an abandoned oil well that is releasing natural gas into the air near a residential neighborhood in Moon Township, Allegheny County.

The well will be plugged by Thursday, Feb. 25.

The work, which is being performed under an emergency contract with Hydrocarbon Well Services of Buckhannon, WV, will protect the public by preventing gas from migrating through the soils and away from the well.

There is no indication that the well poses a risk to area residents or to children attending the nearby J.A. Allard Elementary School, but until the work is completed, DEP advises the public to keep a safe distance from the well.

The well was discovered last fall after a property owner cleared brush from the area. DEP inspected the area and placed the well on a list of abandoned wells to be plugged. DEP began receiving numerous odor complaints from residents beginning Feb. 6 and a subsequent inspection showed that a hole had been eroded into the casing, allowing the release of pressurized gas.

Because abandoned wells can cause many problems, the Oil and Gas Act of 1984 requires well operators to plug non-producing wells. However, many wells were abandoned prior to when state regulations took effect.

In 1992, the legislature amended the Oil and Gas Act to allow certain oil or gas wells abandoned before April 1985 to be classified as “orphan” wells. That amendment also gave DEP the authority and the financial means to plug them.

Funds for well plugging come from Growing Greener grants and from surcharges on well-drilling permits issued in Pennsylvania.

For more information, visit or call 412-442-4000.

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