The residents of Shelby Township, Michigan, learned this week that an oil and gas well will be returning to their community. The oil well, which is operated by West Bay Exploration, is to be placed 457 feet from the nearest home. This is the first oil well of it’s kind to be placed in a high density residential area in Michigan. West Bay Exploration has plans for more in the area. The residents of Shelby Township, and neighboring Rochester and Rochester Hills, are concerned about the impacts and risks of having an industrial operation so close to their homes. Despite the assurances of the oil industry and state regulators, they are afraid that accidents will happen. There are many examples to validate their concern. Here are some:
- Monroe County, OH, December 13, 2014: Families flee out-of-control natural-gas leak at eastern Ohio well. Crews lost control of a natural gas well and families within a mile and a half of the well were evacuated. This was in a rural area so only 400 families effected.
- Bobtown, PA , February 12, 2014: A new well exploded. The blaze burned so hot three fire companies were unable to approach within 900 feet. A specialty company from Houston flew in to stop the blaze which burned for 5 days. Roughneck Ian Mckee’s remains were found after 8 days.
- Leoni, MI, June 13, 2013: Despite an explosion at an oil well, West Bay Exploration claimed there are no safety concerns about their wells in the area. Truck driver, Greg Peacock died nine days later.
- Carbon County, UT, January 28, 2014: A cracked wellhead sent oil flying more than 100 feet into the air. It is unknown just how much oil was lost. Total cleanup time was estimated at two weeks.
- Greely, Colorado, March 3, 2014: An explosion, likely caused by static electricity, shook houses and set a fire that could be seen for miles. Two workers suffered minor injuries.
- Kingsley, MI, March 9, 2014: An oil well fire occurred. Rick Henderson, the DEQ field supervisor, said he was ‘reasonably sure’ the fire was due to a mechanical problem. He also stated that, to clean-up “they’ll probably have to remove some soil…but we [won’t] know the full extent until they get to it.”
These type of accidents, if they occur in densely populated areas, pose a greater risk to human life. Residents of Shelby Township, Rochester, and Rochester Hills are also asking how close their homes have to be to this oil rig to be at risk. In the interactive map below we identify the location of the oil well located in Shelby Township and depict the possible evacuation zone with a 1.5 mile radius from the site. The evacuation zone stretches from Shelby Township west into Rochester and Rochester Hills, and north into Stony Creek Metropark.
We encourage you to voice your concerns to your city and state officials. Tell them that industrial operations do not belong in residential areas. You should also ask your local officials if they have an emergency plan for accidents occurring at well sites in high density residential areas.
Click here for more information on the Shelby Township oil well.
Don’t Drill The Hills is fighting to keep our residential areas… residential. We need your help.