There are roughly 4,600 orphaned oil and natural gas wells across Louisiana, reports PBS News Hour. Wells are considered “orphaned” when they’re forgotten or ignored by the companies that drilled them, in some cases because of bankruptcy, but in others, because they simply no longer maintain them.
Complicating the picture are “idle wells” that have not been abandoned but are also not in use for oil and gas production and have not been permanently sealed. Louisiana ranks 10th among states with the most orphan oil and gas wells. An analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund found that 230,000 people in the state live within a mile of an orphan well, including 15,000 children under 5 years old.
The EDF has mapped 81,000 orphan wells across 28 states. It would cost at least $650 million to plug all of them, according to an analysis from the environmental nonprofit and advocacy group. Read the entire story.