Evidence Shows Oil and Gas Companies Use PFAS in New Mexico Wells
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A new report released by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) in April 2023 reveals that oil and gas companies have been using PFAS, a class of extremely toxic and persistent chemicals, in New Mexico’s oil and gas wells since at least 2013. However, disclosure rules in the state prevent the public from knowing how widely PFAS and other toxic chemicals have been used, raising concerns that New Mexicans may unknowingly be exposed to hazardous substances that are toxic even in small amounts.
PFAS are known for their toxicity, negative health effects, and persistence in the environment, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.” This is particularly risky in New Mexico, where 80% of the population depends on groundwater for drinking water, which can be contaminated by oil and gas production and waste disposal operations. The report is based on data publicly disclosed by the oil and gas industry on the use of chemicals in hydraulic fracturing and found that more than 200 oil and gas wells in six counties in the Permian and San Juan Basins were injected with PFAS between 2013 and 2022.
New Mexico Oil & Gas Wells Fracked with PFAS and Possible PFAS Including Trade Secret Chemicals
This interactive map shows the location of oil and gas wells in New Mexico known to have been fracked between January 1, 2013 and September 29, 2022 using PTFE/Teflon (a known PFAS), fluoroalkyl alcohol substituted polyethylene glycol (a known PFAS), fluorosurfactants that may be PFAS or PFAS precursors, trade secret chemicals, and/or trade secret surfactants.
View the map “Details” tab below in the top right corner to learn more and access the data, or click on the map to explore the dynamic version of this data. Data sources are also listed at the end of this article.
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The Take Away
According to PSR’s report:
- Between 2013 and 2022, oil and gas companies injected at least 261 New Mexico wells with 9,000 pounds of PFAS for use in fracking. Over the same period, oil and gas firms injected more than 8,200 wells with 243 million pounds of “trade secret” fracking chemicals that could be PFAS or other dangerous substances.
- New Mexico law allows oil and gas companies to use trade secret designations to withhold fracking chemical identities from the public and regulators.
- Under state law, oil and gas companies are not required to disclose any of the chemicals they inject into oil and gas wells during the drilling that precedes fracking or during other “downhole” operations aside from fracking.
By shielding from public view the chemicals injected into oil and gas wells, weak disclosure rules raise the potential that New Mexicans may be directly exposed, or their groundwater and well water may be exposed, to PFAS (and other toxic chemicals) from hundreds or even thousands of oil and gas wells and waste disposal sites.
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