|One of the trucks, after it was enveloped by|
flames fed by fumes from injection-well waste.
(Chemical Safety Board photo)
"The site at Rosharon is what is known as a 'Class 2' well," Lustgarten writes. "Such wells are subject to looser rules and less scrutiny than others designed for hazardous materials. Had the chemicals the workers were disposing of that day come from a factory or a refinery, it would have been illegal to pour them into that well. But regulatory concessions won by the energy industry over the last three decades made it legal to dump similar substances into the Rosharon site -- as long as they came from drilling. Injection wells have proliferated over the last 60 years, in large part because they are the cheapest, most expedient way to manage hundreds of billions of gallons of industrial waste generated in the U.S. each year.''
ProPublica has analyzed records summarizing more than 220,000 well inspections conducted between late 2007 and late 2010, including more than 194,000 for Class 2 wells. This most recent installment of by the independent, nonprofit news agency on U.S. injection wells had reporters examining federal audits of state oversight programs, interviewing dozens of experts and exploring court documents, case files, and the evolution of underground disposal law over the past 30 years. The report is exhaustive and includes several links showing that fundamental safeguards are sometimes being ignored or circumvented by use of the Class 2 rules. (Read more) For a state-by-state count of unauthorized, overpressurized and leaking injection wells, go here.