A Hollywood ending? The PNR-1WD rig, with the town of Poplar in the background. Photo by Christa Tyrrell, Ft. Peck Tribes, Office of Environmental Protection
Imagine this as the imaginary plot for a screenplay: A tiny rural town on an Indian Reservation sits a few miles from a large oil field. Abandoned wells are leaking hot, salty water into the town’s only drinking water source, a shallow aquifer.
The town’s residents losing their clean water supply.
Sounds like the lead-in to a Hollywood blockbuster akin to Erin Brockovich, with Big Oil one of the lead actors.
The screenplay calls for top-rank stars and will certainly portray the petroleum industry in a very negative light.
But wait – the facts on the ground challenge this over-dramatized cinematic scenario!
In the real event:
- The federal and tribal governments coordinate considerable expertise and spends millions to delineate the contamination, in cooperation with the new industry owner of the leaking well, which acquired that well long after the leak began.
- The petroleum company plugs the leaking brine from the well it inherited and invests millions in designing a state-of-the-art remediation project, with recognizable results early on.
- The tribal environmental personnel and state agencies marvel at the cooperative process focused on the issue – a process in which they are fully informed and involved.
- Finally, the entire project receives the Department of the Interior’s 2008 Environmental Achievement Award, in recognition that “the unique combination of methods and collaboration used to document remediation progress is unprecedented, and these techniques will likely supplement future industry standards for monitoring remediation.”
This is pretty exciting stuff, in my book – reading about the thorough, involved process and its ongoing results actually gave me goose bumps.
This is a fine example of the kind of work going on in our industry as we step up with determination to solve environmental issues associated with hydrocarbon exploration and production.
DEG is proud to claim the petroleum environmental scientist involved in leading the industry side of the successful team effort – our very own Mike Jacobs of Pioneer Natural Resources, U.S.A, who also is president-elect of DEG.
We also claim the lead U.S. Geological Survey scientist, Bruce Smith, as one of our own. Bruce, by the way, is our DEG chairman for the upcoming Denver AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition.
So as you make your plans for the Denver AAPG convention, be aware that the DEG luncheon speaker Mike Jacobs will present this award-winning “Cooperative Aquifer Restoration Project, Fort Peck Indian Reservation – A Multi-Agency Success Story.”
We hope that you will join us to learn more about the story, and watch for a detailed story on the project in an upcoming EXPLORER – or you could wait for the movie, although I predict it will have a different ending.
Here’s another reminder that DEG Committees seek your input and membership.
Please visit the DEG Web site to learn about the goals of the Environmental Geophysics, CO2 Sequestration, Geohazards, Hydrogeology, Environmental Health and Safety and Research committees.
Network with your peers and share your expertise with industry partners.