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Environmental agency sounds fracking warning

    WYOMING—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft analysis, Dec. 8, of an investigation into the contamination of water in Pavillion, Wyo.
    According to the EPA, the ground water in the aquifer contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing. EPA also re-tested private and public drinking water wells in the community. The samples were consistent with chemicals identified in earlier EPA results released in 2010 and are generally below established health and safety standards.
    At the request of Pavillion residents, EPA began investigating water quality concerns in private drinking water wells three years ago. Since that time, in conjunction with the state of Wyoming, the local community, and the owner of the gas field, Encana, EPA has been working to assess ground water quality and identify potential sources of contamination.
    To ensure a transparent and rigorous analysis, EPA is releasing these findings for public comment and will submit them to an independent scientific review panel. The draft findings announced are specific to Pavillion, where the fracturing is taking place in and below the drinking water aquifer and in close proximity to drinking water wells—production conditions different from those in many other areas of the country.
    EPA’s analysis of samples taken from the two deep monitoring wells in the aquifer indicates detection of synthetic chemicals, like glycols and alcohols consistent with gas production and hydraulic fracturing fluids, benzene concentrations well above Safe Drinking Water Act standards and high methane levels. Given the area’s complex geology and the proximity of drinking water wells to ground water contamination, EPA is concerned about the movement of contaminants within the aquifer and the safety of drinking water wells over time.
    The EPA is working on a study of the impacts of hydraulic fracturing. According to the agency, initial research results are expected by the end of 2012, with a final report released in 2014.

 

 

 



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