Chemicals have been detected in two deep water wells in west-central Wyoming, the EPA said they are consistent with those used in gas production and hydraulic-fracturing fluids. Where did the synthetic chemicals come from? Most likely a gas field near Pavilion, Wyoming is the source. Pavilion is located within the Wind River Indian Reservation, which covers over two million acres and is where two tribes live – Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho.
About 150 gas wells in the Pavilion area are owned by Canada’s largest natural gas producer. A company representative said, “They’ve used terms like ‘likely’. What they’ve come up with here is a probability. It’s not a definitive conclusion.” (Source: Bloomberg) However, the company has been providing water from a different source to about 21 families from Pavilion. Other residents have also sought outside water sources.
Alternate water sources were recommended for residents of Pavilion by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2010 due to their detection of petroleum hydrocarbons in well and groundwater. At that time the same agency said they couldn’t determine the exact source though. This year the EPA dug their own monitoring wells in the aquifer and found, “compounds likely associated with gas-production practices, including hydraulic fracturing”. (Source: Bloomberg) They also said levels of the chemicals are well above safe limits.
This development is a big story potentially, because earlier this year EPA Chief Lisa Jackson testified before Congress that she knew of no proven case where the fracking process had affected water. She didn’t lie, but now the EPA has acknowledged it is likely fracking chemicals have contaminated water.
At the time she made her statement a study from Duke University indicated fracking had contaminated water, but she may have been unaware of the research.
Wind River Indian Reservation
Image Credit: US EPA