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California Will Strengthen Oil Drilling Waste Rules

Joe Moore
Valley Public Radio

California says it will do a better job of monitoring oil drilling that could affect the state’s groundwater supply. From Sacramento, Katie Orr reports on a new plan out Monday.

Drilling for oil can be messy. About 90 percent of the fluid that comes up is waste water and the oil companies have to dispose of it somewhere. California lets them inject the waste back into the ground in designated locations. But last summer the state became aware that some of these injections were happening in unauthorized locations. That prompted a review of the practice.

The Conservation Department’s Jason Marshall says about 2,500 of the state’s 50,000 injection wells were injecting waste into unauthorized zones. He says this new plan will address lapses in oversight.

Marshall: “It’s a plan for how we are going to resolve questions about future permitting and how are we going to resolve an examination of all of those 2,500 wells, and maybe even more of them, to make sure that the injection is going where it’s supposed to go.”

Marshall says the state is monitoring drinking water near the wells for contamination but so far hasn't found any. 

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