March 01, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Lax oversight of oil and gas sites leaves workers and neighbors at risk
Article provided by Gilde Law Firm
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A report from ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization, highlights the danger presented by the network of oil and gas pipelines across the U.S. and under-supervised frackingsites. It appears there are simply not enough regulators to thoroughly inspect oil and gas operation sites, exacerbating the risk of harmful explosions and other dangers associated with oil and gas production.
According to statistics from the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, a department of the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were 81 incidents involving natural gas transmission lines in 2012. These incidents caused seven injuries and $44 million in damage. In addition, there were 71 incidents involving smaller natural gas distribution lines, which caused nine fatalities and 21 injuries.
State and federal regulators are supposed to oversee oil and gas operations, ensuring that drilling and transportation is performed safely to avoid hurting workers and nearby residents, and to ensure that the waste water injected underground in the fracking process does not contaminate the local water supply. However, ProPublica's investigation shows that there is a significant staffing shortfall among regulators, a finding supported by the Congressional Research Service and the New York Times, says the Christian Science Monitor.
ProPublica analyzed information on oil and gas production and waste wells in the U.S., including data from 2003 to 2011. It found that "some states have hired more inspectors or otherwise increased their enforcement capacity," but "the ratio of wells to inspectors remains extremely high, and the volume of waste being pumped underground has ballooned," partly due to the increase in fracking nationwide.
Sometimes the lack of oversight can allow dangerous behavior and other problems to go unchecked. For example, ProPublica examined records from more than 220,000 well inspections and found that more than 7,000 wells had a leak, and more than 17,000 wells failed structural inspections.
Further, ProPublica says well operators knowingly pumped waste water into wells at pressure levels that could lead to leaks more than 1,000 times in a three-year period. In addition, operators injected waste illegally or without a permit in 140 cases, the organization reports.
This information shows there is still much room for improvement in the oversight and operation of oil and gas drilling sites. If you live or work near a fracking or other gas drilling site and have suffered negative health consequences because of your exposure, or if your property has been damaged because of gas production, contact a knowledgeable fracking attorney to discuss your legal options.---
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