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Michigan DEQ plugs salt water found seeping from old Southfield well

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Michigan environmental crews have stopped brine that was found seeping from an old, abandoned well in suburban Detroit.

The state Department of Environmental Quality said Tuesday there was no evidence of petroleum release and that the well has been plugged by filling it with cement. Crews removed any salt-contaminated soils, replaced them with clean soil, and laid down new grass seed.

Staff discovered the brine seep, which is essentially salt water, in April as part of their evaluation of the Word of Faith exploratory well permit, while reviewing the records of two other oil and gas wells previously drilled in Southfield. One of those two old wells - the Moore No. 1 - was about 1½ miles from the proposed Word of Faith well. The Moore No. 1 was drilled in 1939, but did not encounter economic amounts of oil or gas, and the Michigan Supervisor of Wells ordered it plugged in 1941.

Aerial photographs from 2002 and earlier do not reveal any signs of the brine seep, the MDEQ said. It is possible that the Moore No. 1 well was plugged in a manner that was inadequate even by 1941 standards, and that development activities in the early 2000s unknowingly disturbed a near-surface plug in the well, allowing brine to flow to the surface.

Officials have said the brine is not related to the application for a permit to drill at Word of Faith and would have no bearing on the permit decision for the church.

Previous stories on the drilling in Southfield: