U.S. Department of the InteriorDOI News Header
Office of the Secretary
April 14, 2008
Shane Wolfe, (202) 208-6416
Matt Spangler, (202) 452-5130

BLM Set to Complete Cleanup of East Teshekpuk Well Site

Excavation of metallic waste from East Teshekpuk reserve pit.   Red “X” is where metallic waste was found.

Photo by Wayne Svejnoha/BLM
Excavation of metallic waste from East Teshekpuk reserve pit. Red "X" is where metallic waste was found.
[Photo by Wayne Svejnoha/BLM]

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Bureau of Land Management will complete its cleanup of the East Teshekpuk Lake well site by the end of this month, the BLM’s Alaska State Office announced today.  The government “legacy” well, one of 136 such wells managed by the BLM, is located on a peninsula on the lake’s eastern shore, approximately 100 miles southeast of Barrow.  Wind-driven erosion has gradually exposed buried solid waste and breached the back-filled reserve pit at the site, which poses a potential threat to Teshekpuk Lake, the North Slope’s largest freshwater lake.

“The possible threat to Teshekpuk Lake moved the East Teshekpuk site to the top of the BLM’s remediation list,” said BLM Alaska State Director Tom Lonnie.  “The well has been plugged and we look forward to the completion of site remediation by the end of April.”

“I am pleased with the work the BLM has done to expedite the cleanup of this important site,” said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne.  It sets a good precedent for future site remediation.”

The BLM awarded the contract for the cleanup to the Alaska Native-owned Marsh Creek, LLC, of Anchorage and Kaktovik.  Marsh Creek excavated approximately 1,500 cubic yards of petroleum-contaminated drilling mud from the reserve pit and removed 10,000 gallons of diesel from the well bore.  The contents from the reserve pit were transported 17 miles away to the North Kalikpik site, an inactive drill pad where it is being stored in accordance with Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation standards and the diesel was disposed of in an approved injection facility. 

Additionally, 50 cubic yards of scrap metal were removed from the site adjacent to the well pad at the lake’s edge.  The collected debris was placed in roll-off containers and transported to the State–approved Oxbow Landfill for disposal.

The BLM is responsible for both the surface and sub-surface management of the 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A).  Legacy wells are exploratory wells drilled under the direction of the U.S. government within the petroleum reserve prior to the Bureau’s NPR-A oil and gas lease sale in 1982.  As part of the Department of the Interior’s and the BLM’s program for remediation of well sites in the NPR-A that pose a potential environmental risk, the Atigaru and Drew Point sites are next in priority for action.  These two additional legacy well sites are at risk from accelerated coastal erosion on the shore of the Beaufort Sea.  They also have reserve pits containing petroleum-contaminated drilling muds.  The BLM is working closely with the Interior Department, the State of Alaska, the North Slope Borough, and others in a collaborative effort to complete these projects before the sites are compromised and washed into the sea.  The 2009 budget request includes a program increase of $11.2 million which, combined with $5.6 million in legacy well base funding, will support the remediation of the Atigaru site. 

In 2005, the BLM cleaned up the J.W. Dalton well site when accelerated erosion along the Beaufort Sea shoreline threatened the well’s casing and a breached reserve pit. The BLM completed that cleanup during the winter, when the ground was frozen and equipment could operate and ensure minimal impact on the tundra.  Within six months of the cleanup, summer storms had washed the project site into the sea.  The efforts of the BLM project team were recognized with an Interior Department Environmental Achievement Award in 2006.  The Legacy Well Summary Report is available at www.blm.gov/ak.  The summary of the J.W. Dalton Cleanup Project can be read at: www.doi.gov/greening/awards/2006_Dalton.html

The BLM, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages more land – 258 million surface acres – than any other Federal agency.  Most of this public land is located in 12 Western states, including 80.8 million surface acres in Alaska.  The Bureau also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation.  The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.  The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on the public lands.

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