By: Duane Craig
It may come as a surprise to many but hazardous wastes are often routinely injected into the earth through injection wells. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, besides long term storage of CO2 they also handle waste disposal, they enhance oil production and mining and they help prevent salt water intrusion.
As chemical manufacturing increased from the 1950s on, deep injection wells started handling the problem of getting rid of industrial waste. As the EPA puts it, ” injection was a safe and inexpensive option for the disposal of unwanted and often hazardous industrial byproducts.” Of course, it’s always difficult to know just what companies are really injecting back into the earth and so there are federal regulations and state regulations on injection wells to help protect drinking water supplies.
A company in San Angelo agreed to an order from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requiring it to stop using its injection well, start maintaining records of the wastes being generated on site and start labeling used oil containers. This all came about because of a visit from an environmental inspector who claimed the company was discharging municipal hazardous waste into an injection well, didn’t get reauthorized to use the well and didn’t follow paperwork requirements. Interestingly, the company is in the environmental consulting business.