DEQ discovers pollution from Kingfisher County well sites after environmental group’s investigation

KINGFISHER, Okla. – An Oklahoma environmental group says that it is sparking change after it discovered that two oil well sites in Kingfisher County were violating the law.

Earthworks filed a formal complaint to the Department of Environmental Quality after its infrared camera allegedly captured pollution at two well pads owned by Newfield Exploration in Kingfisher County.

“Kingfisher is a hotbed of activity right now, but DEQ isn’t required to inspect every well, unless someone files a complaint,” said Earthworks’ certified thermographer Sharon Wilson. “Complaints help identify and, in cases like this one, move regulators to address potentially hazardous air pollution issues that impact our health and climate. What’s concerning is the thousands of sites we haven’t inspected, and DEQ never will.”

As a result of the complaints, DEQ investigators inspected both sites and found that pollution was leaking from storage tanks holding hydrocarbon products and wastewater.

DEQ has since determined that Newfield would not have to pay fines if it corrected the problems and initiated a plan to avoid more pollution in the future.

This isn’t the first time Earthworks has caused companies to make a change.

In 2016, the group brought their infrared camera to Payne and Kay counties and captured invisible gases escaping from a well site in Stillwater.

The group used the video to file a complaint with the Department of Environmental Quality. Last year, they received word that DEQ inspectors found air pollution at the site and contacted White Star Petroleum.

As a result, the company purchased and installed new hatches for their leaking tanks.

“This action shows why we must speak up when we see, smell, or hear something possibly problematic at an oil and gas facility in our community,” said Kel Pickens, co-founder of Stop Fracking Payne County. “Oklahoma is no stranger to oil and gas pollution. One way we can protect our health and climate from pollution is by reporting possible problems to the regulators whose job it is to solve them.”