Monday, August 11, 2014

New Congressional Report Criticizes EPA Oversight of Injection Wells

A recent report released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) says federal officials have not adequately overseen hundreds of thousands of wells used to inject toxic oil and gas drilling waste deep underground.

The report cites inconsistency in handling safety inspections, poor record keeping and failure to adjust guidelines to adapt to new risks brought on by domestic drilling, and that injection wells are causing earthquakes, per reports from Ohio to Oklahoma and Texas. There are also concerns of potential water contamination as a result of the injection wells.

Currently, oversight of injection wells is delegated by EPA to state agencies, but the GAO report says that EPA is inconsistent in its inspection of the state programs to ensure that regulators follow the Safe Drinking Water Act and EPA guidelines. Since the requirements are only at the state level and not federal, it is difficult for EPA to take legal action.