Efforts to use Addison well abandoned

After five contentious years, Energex Petroleum Inc. and its production well are heading out of Addison Township.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contacted township Supervisor Bruce Pearson on Friday to inform him that Energex had withdrawn its proposal.

“As of Oct. 29, 2018, Energex Petroleum Inc. has withdrawn its application for the proposed Lanphar #1-12 well . . . Therefore, the draft permit is no longer under consideration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),” wrote Stephen Jann, the chief of the underground injection control branch, in an email. “EPA will take no further action regarding this draft permit and will not respond to comments collected during the public comment period.”

The email does not provide a specific reason as to why Energex withdrew its proposal.

The oil well was originally proposed in October 2013 and has been opposed by locals ever since. The well drew protests from Addison officials and residents alike, with many having safety concerns regarding the proposed well.

Other concerns revolved around the age of the pipes that would have been used, which were made in the 1970s, and the closeness the well would be to some homes. Any leaks that took place could have contaminated the groundwater under the site as well.

Energex proposed operating the well for 10 years, during which time the company estimated it would generate 90,000 barrels of oil and 50,000 barrels of natural gas.

Opponents feared if the well had malfunctioned, it would have put Addison residents’ lives at risk.

“The number one thing was that (Energex) wanted to pump H2S, which is hydrogen sulfite gas, into the well to push the oil out,” Pearson said. “And H2S gas is highly poisonous. I mean it can kill you instantly . . . We were afraid of a leak, which could kill our residents.”

Pearson said he may have had more confidence in a larger company like Exxon Mobile that has resources to aid in dangerous or life-threatening situations. But he felt that Energex would have been unable to help residents had something gone wrong.

Aside from safety concerns, Energex also had $20,000 worth of unpaid property taxes in 2016, some of which dated back to 2008.

In 2017, the Addison Township Board attempted to stop the proposed well from happening, but plans with the EPA had continued to move forward. Because so many community members were opposed to the well, Pearson is happy that it’s off the table for now and thinks many residents will feel the same way.

“This is good news as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

The email from Jann stated that should Energex attempt to pursue the well in the future, they will have to start the process over. Pearson said if that happens, he plans on continuing to oppose the well.

“We’ll keep an eye on it,” he said. “If they ever re-apply, we’ll be there to fight them once again. Our board was completely adamant about fighting them.”

Pearson will address the issue publicly at the next township board meeting on Monday, Nov. 19. Meetings start at 6 p.m.

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