Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Lauren Lurkins, Illinois Farm Bureau Director
of Natural and Environmental Resources is working to equip farmers
to handle abandoned oil wells polluting soil in their fields.
Crawford County farmer Mike Rosborough watched saltwater -- at
times a two-inch stream -- flow across his Hardinville field last
year, essentially sterilizing his soil, and into a county road
Recently Rosborough and several Crawford County farmers, along
with county and Illinois Farm Bureau staff, discussed the abandoned
well problem with Illinois Natural Resources Director Marc Miller
and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) oil and gas resource
"This is a serious problem for our members, and we're glad the
department took the time to discuss the problem with individual
farmer members," said Lauren Lurkins, IFB director of natural and
environmental resources. She participated in the Crawford County
The brine and oil, in some cases, has been forced to the surface
from leaking abandoned oil wells in the area. It's not a new
problem for Crawford County farmers, but has increased in frequency
because more oil companies with operating wells are injecting brine
at a high volume into nearby wells, according to Rosborough.
Rosborough attributes the resurfacing problem to the haphazard
materials, including stumps and gunny sacks, used to fill abandoned
wells in the 1910s, '20s and '30s. Now pressure from operations
several hundred feet away is finding weak points and pushing to the
"We need their (DNR) help" to properly seal abandoned wells with
funding from the Plugging and Restoration Fund (PRF), Rosborough
said. "The director (Miller) seemed receptive to our problem."
Farmers know the state has a long list of abandoned wells, but
not all those are causing current damage, he explained. Rosborough
is interested in the state giving top priority to sealing abandoned
wells causing damage.
Another issue is a lack of Crawford County contractors who are
certified by DNR to seal the wells. Lurkins agreed the lack of
certified area contractors is a problem.
One of IFB's goals is to inform members experiencing problems
from abandoned wells about the exact steps they should take to
report the problems to DNR, according to Lurkins. "We want our
members to know exactly what steps, including documentation, are
needed," Lurkins said.
IFB is aware of the problem and will work with members and
DNR to address the issues, Lurkins added.
Content for this story was provided by Kay Shipmann, a Farm
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