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Injection wells are used to transfer fluids from above ground to underground formations in porous rock formations. The types of fluids that are commonly injected underground include wastewater, brine, chemical/water mixes, and water. Did you know that hazardous waste and carbon dioxide are also injected underground or that property owners who suffer damage from high pressure injection deep into these wells may be entitled to file an Oklahoma fracking earthquake lawsuit seeking redress. Here, we discuss deep injection wells and some of their uses.
How Are Injection Wells Constructed?
How these wells are constructed is highly dependent upon what it is being used for. For example, wells used for the disposal of carbon dioxide, as in CO2 sequestration, or hazardous and toxic waste is injected into wells made of layers of cement with a sophisticated protective casing. On the other hand, shallow wells are generally build with a simple construction.
What Are These Wells Used For?
The act of disposing waste in the Earth was widespread by the 1930s. At that time, most wells were used to dispose of brine during oil drilling. By pumping the waste underground, oil producers were able to preserve surface and drinking water. By the 1950’s industrial byproducts from chemical companies were injected deep underground as a safe way to dispose of them.
Today, these types of wells are used for carbon dioxide storage, waste disposal, mining, enhanced oil production, and to prevent salt water intrusion.
Who Makes Sure the Wells Are Safe?
Injection wells are overseen by the EPA as well as state and tribal agencies. If a tribe or state wants to act as the primary overseer, they must apply for “primacy” and meet federal requirements. If no local or tribal agency obtains primacy, then the EPA, through its regional offices, will oversee the wells. However, the regulations and overseers of the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program are to keep underground drinking water sources safe from contamination, only.
The UIC program works to make sure that the fluids that are injected into the wells remain in the designated zone, and to ensure that the fluids that directly or indirectly enter a underground source of drinking water (USDW) will not have an adverse effect on the health of those who drink it, and will not cause drinking water standards to be violated.
Do All Wells Have the Same Regulations?
There are six distinct classes of wells. These include,
- Class 1 municipal and industrial waste disposal wells
- Class 2 oil and gas injection wells
- Class 3 solution mining wells
- Class 4 shallow hazardous and radioactive waste wells
- Class 5 non-hazardous wells that are in or above underground water sources
- Class 6 CO2 sequestration wells
The rules for each of these well types are different, and even within a class the rules can change. Take for example that Oklahoma is trying to develop rules for deep injection well disposal that will regulate how much, how often, how deep, and under what pressure waste is injected into deep wells as a way to decrease induced seismic activity. The state is being hammered by induced earthquakes and property owners are speaking with an Oklahoma fracking earthquake law firm over the increase of man-made quakes that are causing damage throughout the state.