A new Bureau of Land Management report indicates that most of the groundwater contamination near Pinedale was not caused by the energy industry.
After petroleum products showed up in water wells in the Pinedale Anticline gas field in 2006, several agencies launched an investigation to figure out where the contamination was coming from. They concluded that some pollution occurred naturally, as gas seeped upward through geologic layers and into the groundwater. The report says other pollutants came from the process of drilling and installing water wells.
The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission says it hopes to file a report about well bore integrity in Pavillion by the end of the year.
The report will be part of a larger effort to figure out the causes of groundwater contamination in Pavillion. The study will include a total of about 50 oil and gas exploration and production wells located within a quarter mile of 14 domestic water wells.
Governor Matt Mead says he trusts the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to deliver trustworthy results when it takes over the Pavillion water contamination study from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A draft of the study initiated by the EPA was released in 2011 and tentatively linked groundwater contamination with fracking, something industry expressed skepticism about.
Mead says he’s not sure yet whether the state study will be peer reviewed once it’s completed.
A study found that if wastewater were injected into a deep portion of the Madison Aquifer, it could potentially contaminate drinking water supplies in other areas.
Encana Oil and Gas has asked for permission to dispose of brine and drilling waste in the aquifer. The company says it would inject the waste into an area where water quality is already poor and which is so deep that it would be an impractical source for drinking water, regardless.
Tomorrow, the U-S House of Representatives’ Energy and Environment Subcommittee will hear about the Environmental Protection Agency’s ongoing investigation of groundwater contamination in the town of Pavillion. However, Pavillion residents say they were not invited to testify.
In December the EPA released a draft report on its three-year water contamination investigation. It indicated that ground water in Pavillion’s aquifer contains compounds that are “likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing.”
In early November, a Texas-based company called Legacy Reserves LP announced that it would purchase oil and gas properties in Fremont County: primarily properties owned by Encana in the Pavillion area. Late last week, Legacy Reserves pulled out of the deal.