The EPA has confirmed a new USGS report published today supports an earlier study that groundwater near a Wyoming town may contain chemicals associated with fracking.It would be the first time a government report directly linked fracking to groundwater contamination.
EPA representative Alisha Johnson said the new findings are consistent with results that agency published in December that found contamination:
EPA’s analysis of samples taken from the Agency’s 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.
As part of an agreement with Wyoming, the USGS did not interpret its own results for the area surrounding Pavillion, Wyo., according to the release accompanying the report.
“USGS conducted the sampling at the request of the State of Wyoming and in coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Consistent with a cooperative agreement with Wyoming, the USGS did not interpret data as part of this sampling effort.
Instead, USGS wrote:
several different hydrocarbon gasses, including methane, ethane, propane, and several higher molecular weight compounds, were detected in the groundwater-quality samples.
Johnson also said EPA was finalising its own results, and that both its report and USGS’ would be submitted to a third party for further analysis.
Once finalised, the latest EPA data, along with the USGS data, will be submitted to an independent, expert peer review as part of the ongoing scientific process later this year.
Another EPA representative said she did not know when that final study would be published.
A statement from Encana, the company who performed the drilling, said they are still looking at the data, but suggested faulty testing may have affected the findings:
From a preliminary examination of the data, there appears to be nothing surprising in these results. More important is the fact that USGS only sampled one of the two monitoring wells. This goes to the heart of concerns raised by state and federal agencies, as well as Encana—EPA’s wells are improperly constructed. Specifically, the report seems to indicate that USGS declined to sample MW02 because the well could not provide a sample that was representative of actual water quality conditions.
Fracking remains one of the most contentious debate issues in the United States:
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