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Plugged, Abandoned Wells In Pavillion May Still Have Issues 

Well with holes rusted through on John Fenton's property
John Fenton

Pavillion homeowner John Fenton is questioning whether abandoned wells near his home were properly addressed to eliminate contamination. The Fremont County town has been plagued since 2008 with contaminated water from underground natural gas with citizens complaining of discolored and foul smelling water. Since then, gas-producer EnCana has worked to plug abandoned wells and pressure test them to ensure there’s no interaction between gas and water.  

But Fenton said there’s a plugged, abandoned well on his property that does not have the defenses it should. He said the "surface-casing" was corroded, leaving holes in it.

“Here’s the first layer of protection we’ve been told about by the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, by industry, by all these people,” Fenton said. “Surface casing is supposed to be our defense from things getting into the water, and this thing has big holes rusting through it." 

He added there was no record of the issue in the Bureau of Land Management’s inspection report.

John Fenton's well with rusted surface casing
Credit John Fenton
Encana well on John Fenton's property with rusted surface casing

“It really leads me to wonder what else is being left out of these reports, how many of these may have holes in them and how does that affect the testing that we’ve done,” Fenton said.

He said it calls into question how reliable the pressure testing has been over the years and wonders if there are similar problems nearby. A BLM representative say they’re in the process of preparing a statement, but can’t respond at this time due to their trust responsibility with tribes on the Wind River Reservation. 

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.

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