The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has concluded groundwater contamination in the Pavillion area is unlikely to have been caused by hydraulic fracturing.
Pavillion emerged at the center of the national debate over fracking back in 2011 when the Environmental Protection Agency released a report that showed elevated levels of various petroleum compounds and methane in some area water wells.
The agency eventually handed the investigation over to the state and the DEQ re-sampled about a dozen water wells for a range of contaminants. The department found no chemicals directly associated with fracking, although their analysis did not rule out contamination from other parts of the drilling process.
The DEQ is recommending further study to find the source of methane detected in the water wells and to isolate whether nearby waste pits are a contributing factor.
“I think we’ve help narrow some of the questions down considerably, but maybe not yet completely at this time,” said Kevin Frederick, DEQ’s water quality administrator.
But some Pavillion residents are skeptical about whether any questions have truly been answered.
Jeff Locker owns several of the affected water wells. He says he hasn’t had a chance to fully review the report, but that because of past experiences, he will lend a critical eye to the results.
“It really does not bode well with me that I should trust what’s coming from the State of Wyoming,” he said.
Locker is currently suing Encana Oil and Gas over the contamination, and says he’ll have outside experts look at the report. The Powder River Basin Resource Council also says it will be hiring an independent expert to review the study. The DEQ is asking for public comment on the draft report through March 18, 2016.
The full text of the report, along with appendices, can be found here.