The Environmental Protection Agency has requested oil producers stop injecting wastewater in seven well sites in northeast Oklahoma to halt saltwater contamination in the area.
The EPA’s request comes nearly a year after the Bird Creek saltwater contamination first was reported.
The agency’s goal “is to make sure that anything injected stays in the formation in which it’s injected,” said Sam Coleman, region six administrator for the EPA. Coleman told the Tulsa World brine contamination in the drainage is a long-standing problem.
“We will work with the wells closest to Bird Creek where we have found the hot spots and ask them to voluntarily cease all injection,” Coleman said.
Coleman said at least seven wells near the creek have been identified as problem wells after chemical and water monitoring in the creek began in May. He said they require immediate attention.
“There are still a couple of data points that give us concern that something else is happening, as well,” Coleman said.
Coleman said the wells are relatively shallow, ranging from 2,700 feet (822.96 meters) to 2,900 feet (883.92 meters). He said the wells likely will need to be capped permanently.
“Based on what evidence we have right now, we don’t believe those wells can continue to inject,” he said.
Coleman said capping the wells should return pressures and geology to normal.
Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner said all of the wells are in Osage County and that the state has no jurisdiction over them.