Pavillion residents fear Encana could shirk cleanup duties through land sale

Nov 4, 2011

Residents of the town of Pavillion say a company called Legacy Reserves LP has entered an agreement to purchase natural gas properties in the area from the current owner, Encana. 

Representatives from Legacy Reserves did not return calls to confirm the sale, but according to their website,  the Midland, Texas-based company will purchase several properties in Freemont County, where Pavillion is located, for 45-million dollars.

For years, Pavillion residents have complained of health problems which they blame on water contamination from local oil and gas development as well as hydraulic fracturing… and  Deb Thomas with the Powder River Basin Resource Council says residents are worried about what the sale would mean for the future of the town.

"I know that certainly our members are very concerned about what this means in terms of who’s going to clean up the huge mess that’s been created there -- what it means as far as liability," Thomas said. "Does Encana carry liability if the contamination is linked to the oil and gas development that’s happened there, or do they simply get to come into the area and create a huge mess and leave?"

The Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Environmental Quality, Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and a truckload of other state, federal and tribal agencies have been involved in the investigation. In the past, investigators have found chemical signatures in water that indicate contamination has come from gas production. However, further analysis from agencies involved in the area has yet to be released.