Federal Audit Forces California Drillers to Halt Production

by | Feb 15, 2017

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A federal audit is forcing hundreds of oilfield wastewater wells throughout California to shutdown. It revealed that the state had “illegally” permitted those companies to inject contaminated fluids into protected waters supplies, writes the CBS affiliate, KPIX 5.

The station writes that local officials had cited E&B Natural Resources for “failure to provide an immediate verbal report” of the contamination. It also says that in a separate incident E&B was sued for improper transportation and disposal of hazardous waste.

Residents of Livermore, where the alleged incidents have occurred,  are worried about groundwater contamination. Others are concerned about a nearby earthquake fault where the wastewater could escape, the article says.

By law, contaminated water from oil production has to be re-injected into the ground for disposal purposes, the story says. It can also be used to enhance oil recovery. But federal law — the Safe Drinking Water Act — says that such re-injection can only occur if it doesn’t pollute the water table that is just beneath the earth’s surface.

“Unfortunately it’s part of a larger pattern of the state rubber stamping these exemption applications on behalf of the oil industry,” said Hollin Kretzmann, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, in the story. “We are not going to be able to rely on EPA in the future, so it heightens the responsibility of our state to really serve as a check on the oil industry.”

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