Advocate editorial board opinion: Disposal wells don't present environmental hazard

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Oct. 15, 2011 at 5:15 a.m.
Updated Oct. 16, 2011 at 5:16 a.m.

We were glad to find out that injection wells are much safer than thought to be.

Injection wells - or disposal wells - are used to dispose of drilling fluids - usually a mixture of saltwater and oil. The wells are needed to complement all of the drilling activity in our region, and are an inexpensive way to dispose of the fluids.

Briefly, the injection wells go to a depth of 3,200 feet - well below the Chicot Aquifer and the Evangeline Aquifer - into an underground saltwater river, called the Catahoula formation.

The fluids go down a 3½-inch pipe that is inside a 7-inch pipe - it, also, is inside a 10¾-inch pipe. These three pipes are incased in concrete to shape a 14¾-inch hole down the well.

And, even better, the Catahoula, or underground saltwater river, is below a confining layer called the Burkeville. The fluids cannot penetrate the Burkeville layer.

Still, we can understand any concern that these fluids might contaminate fresh water wells or a river. However, we think these injection wells are safe, as long as they are constructed and operated correctly.

With that said, we praise the Victoria Residents for a Clean Water Community with Ken Roehl and Patsy Price. The group successfully went through the correct process - garnering support from the county and city - to challenge an injection well coming in the area of their neighborhood at Farm-to-Market 1685 and Loop 463.

And also we praise the injection well company - American Disposal Services - for volunteering to give up its permit to drill and move elsewhere closer to the Eagle Ford Shale. We think the company cared enough about the residents to move its well to another location.

Granted, truck traffic from active injection wells certainly would be an inconvenience to county residents, but we think injection wells are not an environmental problem.

And there are 67 active injection wells and 355 permitted wells in Victoria County, according to the Texas Railroad Commission.

With that number of permitted wells and the precautions required of the wells, we think the wells are safe.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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