EPA Finds Fracking May Have Caused Groundwater Pollution in Wyoming

New York Times
December 8, 2011

E.P.A. Implicates Fracking in Pollution
Associated Press

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft finding today suggesting that fracking may be to blame for causing groundwater pollution in Wyoming. The EPA found that compounds likely associated with fracking chemicals had been detected in the groundwater beneath Pavillion, Wyoming, a small community about 230 miles northeast of Salt Lake City where residents complained that their well water reeks of chemicals. EnCana Corp. owns about 150 wells in Pavillion. EnCana has been providing drinking water to about 21 families in Pavillion since August, 2010. Samples taken from two deep water-monitoring wells near a gas field in Pavillion showed synthetic chemicals such as glycols and alcohols “consistent with gas production and hydraulic-fracturing fluids,” according to the EPA statement.

In issuing its draft findings, the EPA also emphasized that the findings are specific to the Pavillion area. The agency said the fracking that occurred in Pavillion differed from fracking methods used elsewhere in regions with different geological characteristics. Specifically, the fracking occurred below the level of the drinking water aquifer and close to water wells. Elsewhere, drilling is more remote and fracking occurs much deeper than the level of groundwater that anybody would use.

EPA’s statement notes that “[t]o ensure a transparent and rigorous analysis,” it is releasing its findings for public comment and will submit them to an independent scientific review panel.