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Still Waters

Drones locate dangerous, unplugged oil wells

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Still Waters

There are millions of unplugged oil wells in the United States, which pose a serious threat to the environment. Using drones, researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York have developed a new method to locate these hard-to-locate and dangerous wells.

New York State has an estimated 35,000 abandoned oil or gas wells, while Pennsylvania has more than 600,000 dating back to the early days of drilling. Overall, the United States has an estimated 2 million orphaned wells. These wells pose multiple risks. They release methane into the atmosphere, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, along with chemicals such as benzene, carbon tetrachloride and chloroform. Through sunlight-driven chemical reactions, methane also increases tropospheric ozone, which is considered a pollutant connected with respiratory distress.


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