AP IMPACT: Gulf awash in 27,000 abandoned wells

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ETATS-UNIS, GOLFE DU MEXIQUE: Unité mobile de forage offshore Developpment Driller II alors qu’elle s’apprête à forer un puits de soulagement sur la zone du deepwater horizon, le 18 Mai 2010. Copyright AFP Photo

More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lurk in the hard rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental minefield that has been ignored for decades. No one — not industry, not government — is checking to see if they are leaking, an Associated Press investigation shows.

The oldest of these wells were abandoned in the late 1940s, raising the prospect that many deteriorating sealing jobs are already failing.

The AP investigation uncovered particular concern with 3,500 of the neglected wells — those characterized in federal government records as “temporarily abandoned.”

Associated Press

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