27 Thousand Abandoned Wells Dot Gulf's Floor

And nobody's monitoring them for leaks
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2010 2:07 PM CDT
27 Thousand Abandoned Wells Dot Gulf's Floor
In this Monday, June 7, 2010 photo, patches of oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill are seen from an underwater vantage, Monday, June 7, 2010.   (AP Photo/Rich Matthews)

(Newser) – BP's Macondo oil well is the only one on anyone's mind right now, but there are literally thousands more like it littering the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. Some are only temporarily abandoned (as BP was attempting to do in the Deepwater Horizon fiasco), while others date back to the 1940s, but the AP finds in an investigation that there is nonetheless no one monitoring them—all 27,000 of them—to see whether they're leaking.

The scope of the problem gets deeper—and murkier: some 3,500 of the wells are classified as "temporarily abandoned," meaning they aren't required to be sealed as stringently, though about 1,000 of those haven't been touched in at least a decade. Capped wells routinely fail on land, the AP notes, and the EPA admitted as the AP report went to press that it had dealt with underwater failed wells. But when pressed, the Interior Department had no answer as to why it didn't inspect these wells.
(Read more Gulf oil spill stories.)

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