With funding received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the Bureau of Land Management will address abandoned mine land and abandoned well projects. Most of the abandoned mine land projects were selected for ARRA funding because of physical safety hazards and their close proximity to public places and high-use areas such as trails, designated off-highway vehicle areas, and picnic areas.
|$53 million of Recovery Act funds will be spent on 81 abandoned mine land and abandoned well projects.|
The Drew Point Well on Alaska’s northern border poses a high risk to the environment because of rapid shoreline erosion on the Beaufort Sea. If not remediated, this unplugged well threatens to contaminate subsistence resources, such as the bowhead whale, seal, walrus and fish, and threatened and endangered species, such as the polar bear.
This is one of 136 exploratory wells drilled by the federal government from 1944 to 1982 called “legacy wells,” many of which were left unplugged or partially plugged. The BLM, now responsible for these wells, determined that 37 posed risks to the environment. Thirteen of these wells have been plugged since 2002.
Recovery Act Funding
The BLM received $305 million to help stimulate the economy through investments in the National System of Public Lands. The BLM plans to invest approximately $53 million of Recovery Act funds on 84 abandoned mine land and abandoned well projects that will protect public health and safety by remediating sites that pose the greatest risk to the public and the environment.
The BLM’s abandoned mine land program enhances public safety and improves water quality by reducing or eliminating the effects of past hardrock mining throughout the Western United States. Environmental degradation surrounding the Drew Point Well will be prevented when that northern Alaskan legacy well is plugged.