TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity applauded today’s order from the Obama administration to permanently plug nearly 3,500 abandoned oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico. The administration also said about 650 unused production platforms will be dismantled.
“This is an important first step in cleaning up what’s become a dumping ground for the offshore oil and gas industry,” said Peter Galvin, conservation director for the Center. “These old wells can and do leak oil that only adds to the environmental problems the Gulf has suffered in recent decades.”
A recent Associated Press investigation found more than 27,000 abandoned wells in the Gulf, including many dating back to the 1940s and 1950s and about 600 that belong to BP. The investigation also found about 1,000 unused platforms. Many of the wells have gone unchecked for decades, posing the risk of neglected equipment failing and eventually leaking oil into the Gulf. Idle platforms also present a danger to navigation if they are knocked loose in a storm.
Today’s order focuses on wells that have been designated as “temporarily abandoned” over the last five years.
“The BP disaster and reports of these abandoned wells serve as important reminders of the real and ongoing dangers of offshore drilling,” said Galvin. “We’re glad to see the Obama administration take these threats seriously, but it can’t stop with today’s order. Rather than lift the moratorium on deepwater drilling, the Obama administration needs to extend it to new projects in shallow waters, too, until the safety of people and the environment can be assured.”