High-Emitting Well Sits Just a Few Feet Away from an Occupied Residence
Erie County, Pa. – Jan. 26, 2023 – The Well Done Foundation (WDF) announced today that through a partnership with Colo.-based Project Canary Foundation it will plug a high-emitting orphaned natural gas well in Erie County, Pa. according to WDF founder and Chairman Curtis Shuck. There are over 2 million orphaned oil and gas wells currently in the U.S., according to estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These wells can leak harmful methane and other dangerous gases like hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), posing a threat to our land, water, and communities.
The well, originally called Bear Run #1, is situated 15 feet away from an occupied mobile home in the manufactured housing community. Plugging will commence on Feb. 1. Project Canary will deploy high-fidelity air sensors to measure methane and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) pre- and post-plugging.
“The WDF is excited to be working with The Project Canary Foundation to plug this undocumented orphan well in Erie County,” said WDF Chairman Curtis Shuck. “WDF and Project Canary have been developing this type of collaboration for more than six months and it is amazing to see the first project come to life in Pennsylvania.”
When Nacopoulos purchased the mobile home park in the early 1970s, he was unaware that there were natural gas wells on the property. It wasn’t until 2022 that he accidentally discovered the Bear Run #1 Undocumented Orphan Well located just a mere 15 feet from an occupied mobile home. He was looking for a water shut-off valve when he opened the underground vault that concealed the undocumented orphaned well. Nacopoulos smelled a strange odor and reached out to a local contractor who in turn contacted the WDF. The WDF immediately sampled the air around the orphaned well and discovered that it contained high levels of methane and other harmful greenhouse gases. Due to its age and deteriorated condition, the well was allowing gas to leak past its valve.
The WDF then worked with Nacopoulos and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to begin the “Well Done Process” to eliminate leaks and protect the community. This well is being plugged with support from The Project Canary Foundation.
“There are millions of abandoned wells across the country—working to plug them makes a real, tangible difference when it comes to air quality. We’re committed to protecting the Erie, Pa. community from the risks of dangerous gases like methane and HAPs. Confronting climate change demands resilience and collaboration,” said Miles Tolbert of the Project Canary Foundation. “We’re proud to partner with the WDF to build a brighter future for all.”
The “Well Done Process” is a multi-step initiative built upon public and private partnerships. WDF identifies high emitting orphaned and abandoned oil or gas wells and then qualifies them through a rigorous measurement and monitoring rubric. Then, through partnerships with regulatory bodies and landowners, WDF develops a plan to plug the wells and restore impacted surface areas. Funding for each project is made possible through corporate or individual sponsorships.