Feb. 21, 2017

A new mapping project released today by the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) plots the oil and gas waste stream in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

Created by the FracTracker Alliance, the WORC Oil and Gas Waste Mapping Project, using state agency data, charts:

  • Wastewater spills,
  • Wastewater injection wells,
  • Radioactive solid waste facilities, and
  • Commercial oilfield waste disposal facilities.

The mapping project supplements No Time to Waste, WORC’s 2015 report that compares federal and state safeguards related to oil and gas waste. The report found that the federal government and states throughout the West lacked sufficient protections with regard to the storage, transport, and disposal of radioactive oil and gas field waste. The states covered in the report are Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Due to inadequate state and federal standards, the WORC Oil and Gas Waste Mapping Project builds off of the report’s effort to educate the public and regulators about the size and dangers of this waste stream. The mapping project is intended to be a resource for communities affected by oil and gas waste.

“These maps are an amazing resource for communities impacted by oil and gas development,” said WORC’s Oil and Gas Campaign Team Chair Linda Weiss of Belfield, N.D. “The visual nature of these maps makes it easier for people directly impacted by oil and gas development to know the location of oil and gas waste facilities and spills. Prior to the release of these maps, people like me had to search through hundreds of pages of state agency data to figure out the location of spills or waste sites.”

Because standards are left up to the states, oversight of oil and gas waste is at-best piecemeal. According to WORC’s report, regulators are ill-prepared to handle adequately land and water contamination from wastewater spills and solid and liquid waste facilities. For example, since 2010,  North Dakota has experienced thousands of wastewater spills, and many well-documented cases of illegal dumping of radioactive solid waste.

The oil and gas waste stream contains hazardous environmental contaminants including: radioactive liquids and solids, extremely salty wastewater that, if spilled, irreparably harms soil and water, and cancer-causing chemicals that come up from the drilling process.

“As someone who lives within five miles of an oil and gas waste facility, I plan to share this project with my neighbors, so we can better monitor the impacts and growth of oil and gas waste in our area,” Weiss said.

The WORC Oil and Gas Waste Mapping Project can be accessed by visiting: http://www.worc.org/worc-oil-gas-waste-mapping-project/

State maps are accessible below:

Colorado

Montana

North Dakota

Wyoming

FracTracker Alliance based the maps on data provided by state agencies.

The Western Organization of Resource Councils is a seven-state network of grassroots community organizations working to shape policies on energy and agriculture to strengthen communities across the rural West. Learn more at www.worc.org.

FracTracker studies, maps, and communicates the risks of oil and gas development to protect our planet and support the renewable energy transformation. Learn more at fractracker.org.

 

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