Clean Drinking Water is a Good Thing

By Seth Steiner of Los Alamos

Clean water for drinking and ag use is surely a good thing. Three oil companies want to vastly increase drilling between Santa Maria and Los Alamos. If they have their way, hundreds of new wells would be drilled right through the groundwater basin that provides water for tens of thousands of people. If our water is contaminated, what the heck. Most of their shareholders live out-of-state anyway.

Now let’s consider something the oil companies don’t like to talk about — breaches of well casings. These wells would go down directly through the aquifer, our drinking water, to reach the oil below. They tell us that there are layers of clay that act as impermeable barriers protecting our water. And barriers, static and dynamic, are put in place to prevent blowouts and the potential release of oil. However, operator error, mechanical failure and equipment malfunction occurs. 

A blowout could happen anywhere along the route of the well casing, including where it passes through our drinking water. A recent independent study of over 3000 wells put the well failure rate at over 7%. Aera proposes to use an extreme extraction technique employing high pressure steam at temperatures of over 500 degrees. This could result in even higher rates of casing failure. 

Beyond this problem, one of these companies, Aera Energy, assumes there would be one spill per year for every 130 of its wells in this area between Santa Maria and Los Alamos. This alone would amount to spills each year of over one-half million gallons. In addition to oil spills, more millions of gallons of other toxic and cancer-causing liquids from oil drilling operations always accidentally or unintentionally make their way into the ground and percolate down.

Over the long life of a well, whether active, idle or abandoned, it is very likely to experience a breach. The profit would all go to the shareholders while we would take the risk of losing our drinking water.

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  1. Totally crazy to let them have their way and put the water supply in jeopardy . One plus, according to the oil company, is there will be 100s of jobs, selling point to get the vote. What they don’t add is the 100s will be stretched over the life of the drilling, 35 years.

  2. Oil companies routinely treat TEMPORARY construction jobs as if they were permanent when they put out their (often bloated) figures. Companies build & extract locally; the money goes global, the damage stays local, and clean-up, if there is any, is at tax-payer expense. This bend over and hold your ankles proposal should be immediately stopped for the welfare of the people of our county.

  3. I can hear the oil proponents squeal that we’ve always had oil wells passing through the aquifer! But not at this pressure.
    Environmental protections put in place by the State and County can be evaded by claiming interstate commerce, which puts the protections into the Federal ball park. Donald Trump’s Federal ball park. That’s what Plains All American did. Probably their internal company dialogue never strayed from “we got away with it.”
    This will be more of the same. Same people, same greed, same lies. Just a different company name.

  4. The oil companies are completely disingenuous when they claim they drill to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. At the same time, they lobbied HARD to change longstanding laws so that they can export that oil for $$$. More people need to know about this duplicity.

  5. I never drink bottled water, the plastic isn’t good for you. Also, drinking isn’t the only use, water is used for cooking (hence, ingested). Also, not everyone can afford only bottled water. Greed is the name of the game for oil companies.

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