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EPA Confirms Tainted Water Near Wyoming Fracking Operations

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The owners of around 40 water wells in Pavillion, Wyoming have been warned not to drink or cook with their water, after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the results of its latest water quality tests in the Central Wyoming town. While the testing revealed contamination with benzene and other byproducts that could be from nearby hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations, the EPA could not say for sure yet if the drilling was the source.

According to CNN, EPA officials said Tuesday they found low levels of petroleum compounds in 17 of 19 drinking water wells sampled, and that nearby shallow groundwater was contaminated with high levels of petroleum compounds such as benzene. High levels of sodium, sulfates and other inorganic compounds were also found in all but one of 40 wells tested.

The presence of the inorganic compounds prompted the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to issue the water use warning.

The Canadian drilling company EnCana began ramping up gas development in the Pavillion/Muddy Ridge field earlier this decade. Last year, the EPAbegan sampling in the Pavillion area in response to multiple landowners concerns about changes in water quality and quantity following EnCana’s increased drilling. In August of last year, the EPA announced that its initial investigations found 11 of 39 tested drinking water wells were contaminated.

While EnCana’s drilling hasn’t been confirmed as the source of any of the contamination, the company announced yesterday that it has volunteered to pay for those affected to get clean drinking water.

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