Leakage in Ken Regan field could have contaminated groundwater for livestock and irrigation between 2007 and 2011.
Geophysicists at SMU say that evidence of leak occurring in a West Texas wastewater disposal well between 2007 and 2011 should raise concerns about the current potential for contaminated groundwater and damage to surrounding infrastructure.
SMU geophysicist Zhong Lu and the rest of his team believe the leak happened at a wastewater disposal well in the Ken Regan field in northern Reeves County, which could have leaked toxic chemicals into the Rustler Aquifer. The same team of geophysicists at SMU has revealed that sinkholes are expanding and forming in West Texas at a startling rate.
Wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production. Using a process called horizontal drilling, or “fracking,” companies pump vast quantities of water, sand and chemicals far down into the ground to help extract more natural gas and oil. With that gas and oil, however, come large amounts of wastewater that is injected deep into the earth through disposal wells.
Federal and state oil and gas regulations require wastewater to be disposed of at a deep depth, typically ranging from about 1,000 to 2,000 meters deep in this region, so it does not contaminate groundwater or drinking water. A small number of studies suggest that arsenic, benzene and other toxins potentially found in fracking fluids may pose serious risks to reproductive and development health.
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