Oklahoma Energy Resources Board completes milestone cleanup

The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board recently completed its 12,000th well site cleanup, which was on the property of Osage County residents Earl and Dorothy Fink.
by Jay F. Marks Modified: October 18, 2012 at 10:34 pm •  Published: October 19, 2012

OERB Environmental Director Steve Sowers said the agency has increased its focus on Osage County since 2005. Mineral rights there are owned by the Osage Nation, and oil and gas activity is regulated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission approves cleanup sites in the state's other 76 counties.

Sowers said there was a considerable amount of drilling there in the early 1900s, when environmental concerns were practically nonexistent.

“Most likely, there are a significant number of abandoned sites with surface issues such as concrete, trash, debris, equipment and pits that remain,” he said.

“The OERB is hopeful of getting more abandoned exploration and production sites submitted for potential cleanup.”

OERB has cleaned up 486 sites in Osage County, according to its website.

The agency currently restores two to three sites a day; up to 800 sites each year. An estimated 30,000 abandoned well sites remain across Oklahoma.

Fink said the old oil-field equipment on his property did not affect his cattle operation, but it was unsightly.

The cleanup means there will be another six to eight acres of grass next spring in the “bad spot” left by a spill, he said. That will provide additional feedstock for his herd.

Fink said it is a “pretty place” now that it is cleaned up.

by Jay F. Marks
Energy Reporter
Jay F. Marks has been covering Oklahoma news since graduating from Oklahoma State University in 1996. He worked in Sulphur and Enid before joining The Oklahoman in 2005. Marks has been covering the energy industry since 2009.
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To get help from the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board in cleaning up abandoned oil-field sites, call (800) 664-1301 or go to www.oerb.com.

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