Photo by rocor via Flickr
Photo by rocor via Flickr

A pair of oil wells in Echo Park that were abandoned by their owners and have been emitting small amounts of gas around nearby residences will be permanently sealed, state officials announced Wednesday.

The wells, which are in the front yards of two homes on Firmin Street, date back to the early 1900s and were not properly sealed, according to state officials.

After the well operators, Manley Energy Co. and H. Rogalske, ignored remediation orders sent in 2012 and 2015, and later could not be located, the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources decided to move ahead with sealing off the wells.

The well-sealing process will take about six weeks, with street closures expected to inconvenience nearby residents, state officials said.

In order to minimize the effects, the work take place during the day, and an outreach effort that includes door-to-door visits and a community forum will be done before the project begins.

“The owners or operators walked away from these wells and never properly sealed them, so now the state must step in and close them correctly,” Department of Conservation Director David Bunn said.

“These wells need to be properly sealed. We understand the work will inconvenience the community and are working hard to reduce those impacts and get everything finished as quickly as possible,” he said.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who joined a news conference announcing the well- sealing project, said the city “is working closely with state regulators to ensure this work is done quickly and safely.”

State officials said there are an estimated 900 so-called “orphan” wells around Los Angeles, including many that are buried, and urged residents to look up the well sites and email the Department of Conservation with any concerns or questions.

The well map is at http://maps.conservation.ca.gov/doggr/#close, and the department can be reached at DOGDIST1@conservation.ca.gov .

“If a resident believes they have an old oil or gas well on their property, they can email us and we can provide more information,” Bunn said. “With the limited funding we have to address orphan wells, we prioritize sites that are leaking or are close to residential or environmentally sensitive areas.”

–City News Service

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