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Abandoned Chevron well springs a leak and leaves one rancher demanding answers

Watt says the leaking well she found last week has forced her to quarantine 600 head of cattle because she fears they were drinking contaminated water.
Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 6:55 PM CDT
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CRANE, Texas (KOSA) - What happens when an abandoned well starts leaking brine water?

One rancher in Crane County found the answer to that question the hard way this week.

Right now, inside the Crane County line, the Antina Ranch sits on an old oilfield.

This oilfield is filled with wells that were drilled in the 1950s and these old abandoned wells are now starting to leak.

After the death of her parents, Ashley Watt took over the ownership of the Antina Ranch.

Over the years, Chevron has worked with the Watt family regarding concerns over the abandoned wells on the property.

Watt says the leaking well she found last week has forced her to quarantine 600 head of cattle because she fears they were drinking contaminated water.

“We don’t know if our cattle were contaminated. We can’t sell them right now because they may have benzine in their system. It’s not easy to find a place to put 600 cattle and feed and water them. We’re working on that right now. Our cattle business has completely been turned upside down,” said Watt.

Watt says the scariest part of the situation is that no one knows how the well came unplugged or how far the water contamination has spread.

Across her 22,000 acre property, Watt says there are nearly 300 abandoned wells that she wants Chevron to check because she believes the problem spans her entire ranch.

“We think that our water table has been contaminated. We don’t know if it can ever be cleaned up. More concerningly, there are other wells on this ranch nearby that have also begun to unplug themselves. Old P and As, there are active wells that have casing collapsing. Something really bad is happening underground and we don’t know what it is,” said Watt.

Chevron is on-site at the Antina Ranch working to plug the abandoned well.

Here’s what they had to say about the situation.

“Not where we want to be and we understand Ms. Watt’s frustration. But we are here. We have our top team on it and we’re working on this well right now,” said Chevron’s public and government affairs advisor Kayleigh Dunn.

The wells at Antina Ranch have been plugged and abandoned since the 1990s.

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