By KAREN LEWISAssociated PressAUSTIN (AP) Nearly 1,500 samples of asbestos fibers found in nearly 100 Texas oil wells have been identified as coming from natural gas wells, the company said Friday.
The discovery of the fibers in oil wells was a surprise, said Steve Gaudette, president of Texas-based AECOM, which is the parent company of Anadarko Petroleum Corp., a major producer of natural gas.
He said the company had not yet determined the source of the contamination, which it did not identify.
The company had previously said that the oil well sites had been “tested for oil.”
Gaudette said the discovery was the first time in recent history that such a large number of samples were found in a single well.
Anadakos production is expected to increase after the discovery.
He said there were about 500 wells in the state.
Travis County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Michelle Roper said in a statement that a team of workers from the county’s Environmental Quality Services Division and the Texas Department of Transportation and Communications had visited the wells on Friday and were conducting a health and safety investigation.
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Gaudite said he was unaware of any cases of asbestos in oil in Texas before the contamination in January.
He had not seen any reports of asbestos exposure in the general population until the contamination.
He has not been able to determine how many workers were exposed.
The AECom statement said the Texas department of transportation and communications has notified Texas Health Resources.