Residents petition plans for old oil well in Butler Co.

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AUGUSTA, Kan. -- Butler County residents worry that plans for an old oil well may put their families at risk.

Five residents presented their petition to Kansas Corporation Commission Thursday afternoon. They hope to stop Hawkins Oil from injecting salt water into the Arbuckle Formation on the west side of Augusta.

KAKE's Annette Lawless was the only reporter at the pre-hearing.

"When they start injecting brine, salt water down in there, there's just too many possibilities of it messing up our water," said Jimmy Lytton, who has lived in his Augusta home for nearly 20 years.

He and others fear that the toxins will be the beginning of the problems. When they received a letter on the company's plans, they started their research. They found residents in communities in California, Oklahoma and Louisiana have found problems after salt-water injections.

"I understand their part," said neighbor Gerald Graham. "They're trying to move the oil around so they can get secondary recovery of the oil. I understand that. That's an upside--an economic gain for them--but there's no economic gain for us but their is potential for economic loss due to the devaluation to our property because of a lack of water."

In addition to possible water contamination, Graham and Lytton said they're concerned for the location of the project. Their land is located near a fault line, and with recent research on oil production and earthquakes, they wonder what this could mean for Butler County.

There may be a small risk, but it's a risk that we do not have now and have not voluntarily assumed," Graham said. "And, that worries us, of course."

The owner of Hawkins Oil declined to comment on the story because of the current proceedings. A settlement was not reached on the case.

The petition will move forward to a hearing in September.

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