The specifics of how to remediate an out-of-operation brine well in Carlsbad that may be on the verge of collapse could finally be the subject of an action plan in 2018.
The well was closed down nearly a decade ago after it became apparent that it might fall in on itself, resulting in a massive sinkhole.
That sinkhole, in turn, could cause death and injury, not to mention up to an estimated $1 billion in nearby infrastructure damage.
Located along U.S. Route 285, the well has been under close observation by city, county, and state officials who have reached a consensus that if something isn’t done it could collapse as early as 2020.
The price tag for remediating the well, which is 456 feet deep and thousands of feet wide, is placed at $25 million.
Members of the Brine Well Authority are expected to select a contractor later this month who will be tasked with coming up with a course of action leading to the safe remediation of the well.
That plan, which will cost $500,000, to be paid for jointly by Carlsbad, Eddy County, and the State of New Mexico, is expected to be submitted to New Mexico’s Purchasing Office no later than next June.
Brine wells are created by oil and gas companies that fill salt caverns with water. Once the water is saturated with salt, it is pumped out and used in the drilling process.
There are today less than ten operating brine wells in New Mexico.
By Garry Boulard
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