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Environment

More EPA oversight of waste disposal wells recommended

by Jessica Morrison
April 4, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 14

EPA has not sufficiently overseen a type of underground injection well used to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas production, says a recent report from the Government Accountability Office. These wells, which are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act and managed by EPA or states, include some oil and gas recovery wells, disposal wells for oil and gas wastewater, and storage wells for liquid petroleum products. According to GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, EPA has not consistently collected enough information about inspections or enforcement activities “to assess whether the programs are effectively protecting underground sources of drinking water.” In its response to the report, EPA said oversight and data management were long-term challenges and that the agency is in the process of modernizing its well inventory and compliance data collection. GAO recommends that EPA require reporting of well-specific inspection data, clarify requirements for enforcement activity reporting, and evaluate human or other resources needed to oversee the program.

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