Over 9 billion gallons of hazardous waste are injected underground every year.

News media

(Contact info@utwa.org)

Underground Toxic Waste Fact Sheet

  • Over 9 billion gallons of hazardous waste are injected every year.
  • Over 2 billion gallons of brine from oil and gas operations are injected underground every day.
  • Billions of gallons of automotive, industrial, sanitary and other wastes are injected underground every year.
  • There are 173 hazardous waste injection wells in the US.
  • There are hundreds of thousands of oil and gas waste disposal wells in the US.
  • EPA has five classifications of underground injection wells. Two of those types of wells pose the greatest threat to human health, groundwater and property values. They are:
    • Class I injection wells that dispose of hazardous waste from the chemical industry.
    • Class II injections wells that dispose of oil and gas industry wastes.

    Note: Although oil and gas wastes contain benzene, pit sludge, various forms of hydrocarbons and many other dangerous components, Congress has exempted oil and gas waste from classification as hazardous. Thus EPA has almost no authority to regulate oil and gas drilling wastes even though it is the federal oversight agency responsible for protection of most groundwater.  

  • Scientific studies by the USGS in Oklahoma and Texas State University in Texas show that oil and gas drilling wastes injected underground have likely polluted aquifers.
  • Hazardous waste injection facilities have repeatedly been implicated in groundwater, soil and air contaminations.
  • Serious health problems resulting from groundwater contamination from injection wells have been reported in five states.
  • There are instances of groundwater pollution from underground waste dumping in every investigated state where there are injection wells.
  • Property values routinely plummet in the vicinity of injection wells.
  • There are viable and successful alternatives to underground dumping such as bioremediation and waste reduction.


Body Burden
By Vicki Wolf

Unless you are living in a bubble, you are accumulating a “body burden” of toxic pollution. Body burden measures pollution in people. Many of the 85,000 registered synthetic chemicals in the environment contribute to body burden. Few of them have been tested for safety. And many of these chemicals are toxic, and they don’t go away. They accumulate and remain in the tissue of humans, animals and other ecosystems for a long time.
            This bio-accumulation of toxins increases the risk for diseases such as cancer. It also contributes to abnormalities in brain development and in reproductive systems. The Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and the Environmental Working Group found a total of 167 synthetic chemicals when they did a test called biomonitoring with a group of nine volunteers, who do not work with chemicals on the job and do not live near an industrial facility. Of the 167 chemicals found, 76 cause cancer, 94 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 79 cause birth defects or abnormal development. 

To minimize your body burden:

  • Eat organically grown foods.
  • Check the labels of soaps, lotions and shampoos to avoid using toxic chemicals on your body.
  • Don’t use pesticides, solvents and other toxic substances in your home or garden.
  • If you have a choice, avoid living near freeways, incinerators, chemical plants and refineries.
  • Drive less and choose renewable sources of electricity when available.

For more information, check www.cleanhouston.org, the website for CLEAN, Citizens League for Environmental Action Now.

Adapted from EarthCare Radio, courtesy of CLEAN (Citizens League for Environmental Action Now