On October 14, 1987, the nation became captivated by an 18 month old girl that went by Baby Jessica. Jessica McClure was playing in her aunt’s backyard when she fell into an abandoned water well. The well opening was approximately 8 inches wide and 22 feet deep.
The media became transfixed on Baby Jessica and the nation began to pray for baby Jessica until she was rescued after 58 hours of being trapped. Fortunately, rescuers were able to bring her to the surface safely, while the only long-term injury Baby Jessica suffered from was the loss of a toe.
30 years after the Baby Jessica's incident, open water wells still pose a threat throughout the nation. Abandoned and unplugged water wells are very dangerous, and Baby Jessica’s testimony proves just that. Proper plug and abandonment of water wells and monitor wells is very important not only to human health but also the environment.
What is Plug & Abandonment?
Proper plug and abandonment procedures are performed to cap abandoned water wells and groundwater monitoring wells that no longer serve a purpose. When a water well deteriorates or is no longer usable, the well pipe that reaches from the aquifer to the surface remains open and or sealed by a manhole. It is a direct pathway for contaminants to follow if left open or damaged. The soil contains a natural filtration system that reduces the amount of contaminants that can reach the aquifer. Wells have no such filter and become a direct path for contaminants to follow.
In the state of Texas alone, more than 1.5 million water wells have been drilled since 1900. Of this 1.5 million, just over 500,000 have been plugged and abandoned.
When the plug and abandonment procedure is properly completed and permanently sealed the site is returned to pre drilling conditions. The goal is to make sure the area near the well is returned to its original state, prior to any assessments or drilling activities.
If you are interested in learning more about the plug and abandonment process, call Talon/LPE and visit with our team of environmental drilling professionals. They can describe the plug and abandonment process in detail and give you a working idea of what it entails and how it can help prevent situations like Baby Jessica from happening in the future.