State Seeking Bids For Orphan Oil Well Remediation Project

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The clean up of the orphan oil well in the Village-owned floodplain is one step closer to reality. Crews from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil & Gas Resources Management inspected the site in the parklands off of Talmadge Road, near the Ottawa River, in May.

The ODNR is coordinating the clean up and remediation of the well, which officials think could be more than 100 years old. The state has designated the project an emergency, based upon the well's proximity to the river and the apparent subsurface seepage of oil that is turning up in the river.

According to the scope of work put out by the ODNR, based upon their inspection, the leak "would indicate either a breach or defect in the well casing, or an inadequate amount of casing in the well."

The scope of work document was sent out to certified contractors on May 26, and vendors have until June 14 to submit a cost proposal. Because of the unknowns about the well, including its depth, it is difficult to estimate how much the project will cost, according to Steve Irwin of the ODNR.

"It is hard to tell what we are going to get into until we get the well opened up and start working on it," Irwin said.

"Based on how old the well is, we might have to add additional casing, possibly the [full] depth of the well, but that depends on the condition and integrity of what is below grade," Irwin said. "We won't know what we have until we open the well up. You are always hopeful, but in a situation like this, you may have to put in a new casing to give it structural integrity."

For the purpose of the scope of work document, the ODNR instructed contractors to assume the total depth of the well to be 1,600 feet.

The contractor will be responsible for the installation of a temporary access road, tree and vegetation removal, sediment control, plugging the well, removing the contaminated materials, and restoring the site.

The cost of the project will be covered by the ODNR's Orphan Well Program, which was established in 1977. Since its inception, the program has plugged more than 1,900 wells. The state is also monitoring the condition of an additional 700 orphan wells in Ohio.

Officials have indicated there may be hundreds of other orphan wells across the state, their locations a mystery due to lack of historical records. Over the past three years the state has spent more than $4.5 million to plug a total of 57 orphan wells.

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ODNR, oil well, orphan well, Steve Irwin
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