U.S. Water News Online
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Like the lead-in lyrics to the old television series The Beverly Hillbillies, "bubblin' crude" is rising to the surface of a number of water reservoirs within what is commonly referred to as the oil patch in Oklahoma. The reservoirs, formed behind dams built over the past 30 years or so, each cover dozens of plugged oil wells, many of which were capped by little more than a sack or two of concrete. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which has jurisdiction over oilfield pollution in the state, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the reservoirs, are pointing their fingers at each other to solve the oily problem.
According to one report, the commission has refused to pay a $267,142 claim submitted by the Corps to cover cleanup expenses related to an oil leak at Keystone Lake in northeast Oklahoma. The 24,000-acre reservoir is situated over at least 550 former oil wells.
"This isn't a matter of either party not wanting to solve the problem," said commission general counsel Lawrence Edmison. "The reality is neither the Corps nor the commission has the funds available to do the job," noted fellow commission attorney Thomas Tucker. According to a recent survey, in addition to the problems at Keystone Lake, Ooolagah Lake has about 350 wells under it, Kaw Reservoir has about 60, and the Oklahoma side of Lake Texoma is the site of about 44 abandoned wells.
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