At the request of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), EPA conducted a site assessment of leaking oil wells in the Village of Limestone, Cattaraugus County, New York. Thirteen wells were observed actively leaking on the property surrounded by the Tunagawant Creek, a tributary of the Allegany River, where there was a potential for the crude oil to be released into the Allegany River, a navigable waterway of the United States.
These thirteen crude oil production wells and water injection wells were operated up through the mid 1990s, and have subsequently been abandoned. This type of well is known as an orphan well.
A deed and title search for the identification of a viable responsible party indicated that the mineral rights ownership still belonged to one individual who has contested this issue and has been in violation of a court order regarding the plugging of these wells. EPA reviewed the state oil and gas database records for these wells.
EPA initiated a project known as the Crooks Oil Lease Site which will involve the permanent plugging of the abandoned and orphaned crude oil production wells. This project is being conducted under the authority of the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA90). This project is being funded with federal money from the OPA90 Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.