Mother Jones: UC biogeochemist talks about abandoned wells

Mother Jones turned to a University of Cincinnati expert to help understand the scope of a growing environmental concern in the United States: abandoned oil and gas wells.

According to Mother Jones, the United States in 2018 had 50,000 idled or abandoned wells awaiting cleanup by states such as Oklahoma and as many as 750,000 others in need of remediation.

The wells can leach toxic chemicals into underground sources of drinking water, which makes them an environmental and health concern.

UC College of Arts and Sciences associate professor Amy Townsend-Small has been studying the impact of these wells in Ohio and other places. She told Mother Jones that getting access to these sites is a major barrier for scientists who want to understand the risks. Many of the wells are on private land.

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Featured image at top: UC associate professor Amy Townsend-Small can test water samples in her lab. Photo/Jay Yocis/UC Creative + Brand

Amy Townsend-Small puts a sample tube into a beaker of water.

UC associate professor Amy Townsend-Small tests a water sample for methane. Photo/Jay Yocis/UC Creative + Brand

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