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Abandoned Oil Wells Leak Untold Methane From Gulf Floor

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Abandoned Oil Wells Leak Untold Methane From Gulf Floor
More than 30,000 abandoned oil and gas wells litter the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. Chris Graythen / Getty Images

More than 30,000 abandoned oil and gas wells litter the floor of the Gulf of Mexico in federal waters, the vast majority of those permanently — with many likely leaking methane and other pollutants in perpetuity, the Environmental Health Network reports.


The 28,232 permanently abandoned or decommissioned wells on the floor of the Gulf should be permanently plugged and capped when they are decommissioned.

Federal oversight is inadequate, however, and the state of wells after they are decommissioned or abandoned is not monitored.

In addition to methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period, abandoned oil and gas wells spew benzene, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants.

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