December 27, 2011
EPA Report: Pavillion Water Samples Improperly Tested
In early December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft report concluding that natural gas wells in the area of Papillion, Wyoming – most of which were developed using hydraulic fracturing – might have harmed groundwater. That report is now under serious attack, including allegations that EPA’s testing methods were flawed and failed to follow the agency’s own procedures. Officials with the Wyoming Water Development Commission reviewed the EPA’s publicly available information, and found that the agency’s conclusions are partially based on improperly analyzed samples from six private drinking-water wells and two EPA-drilled deep monitoring wells in Pavillion. According to their review, the EPA also found contamination in pure water control samples, didn’t purge the test wells properly before gathering samples, and didn’t mention in its report whether it tested water carried by a truck used in well drilling. Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has called for a broader, state-led investigation along with the EPA, and has asked the EPA to consider including Wyoming expertise in its peer review. Given the issues that have been raised by qualified and experienced state government officials in Wyoming, that seems like a reasonable course of action.