Residents of rural Pavillion, Wyoming, have been concerned about contamination of their drinking water sources for several years. After an expansion of natural gas drilling in their community, residents began reporting strong odors, water turning black, and bad tasting water. Individuals have also been concerned about medical symptoms they believe are related to water contamination. Natural gas driller EnCana conducted some water testing and assured Pavillion residents that there is no evidence of water contamination, but some private testing found otherwise. Here is a photo of one resident's water filter (the black one) after only three days of use -- would you want your family to drink this water?
The local grass roots Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens group went to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and asked for the agency's assistance. EPA decided to investigate and began water testing. EPA reported recently that it found contamination in 11 water wells it tested. EPA testing found natural gas, toxic chemical additives that can be found in oil and gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing fluids, and volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds in the drinking water sources it tested. EPA has said further tests are needed to determine the levels of contamination, the source of contamination, and how much of a health hazard it poses. EPA staff was quoted as saying "It starts to finger point stronger and stronger to the source being somehow related to the gas development, including, but not necessarily conclusively, hydraulic fracturing itself."
We appreciate EPA's initiative and acknowledgement of the need for appropriate investigation to protect human health. More federal oversight of oil and gas production is essential to protect American communities, starting with closing the loopholes for oil and gas in our federal laws, including the Halliburton Loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Here is a photo of the view from the front porch of another Pavillion family. The rainbow looks nice, but the industrial facilities suspected of causing water and air pollution are very close to the home:
Thanks to the Powder River Basin Resource Council and the Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens for the use of these photos.