New groundwater test results due from Wyoming fracking zone

2012-09-26T06:00:00Z 2012-09-27T12:33:04Z New groundwater test results due from Wyoming fracking zoneThe Associated Press The Associated Press
September 26, 2012 6:00 am  • 

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The U.S. Geological Survey plans to release results Wednesday from new groundwater tests in Wyoming where another agency linked hydraulic fracturing to contaminants found in two water wells and residents complained of chemicals polluting their well water.

The new USGS data come from samples taken in April at one of the test wells near Pavillion in central Wyoming. The other test well didn't produce enough water to yield samples deemed large enough to test.

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is the petroleum industry practice of pumping water, sand and chemicals down well bores to crack open fissures and boost the flow of oil and gas.

Environmental groups have sounded the alarm about fracking for years - but with few, if any, examples of verified pollution. Petroleum industry officials say the lack of verified pollution, out of many thousands of wells fracked in the U.S. over the past few decades, proves the process is safe.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Wyoming, the USGS and two American Indian tribes collaborated on the latest sampling, which followed previous testing done solely by the EPA.

The EPA theorized a fracking-pollution link in a draft report released in December. The report drew heavy skepticism from petroleum industry and state officials, including Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, who characterized the finding as a flimsy one.

Wyoming officials - whom the EPA briefed on its findings more than a month ahead of the report's release - also grumbled that the EPA hadn't kept them in the loop about what the federal agency was up to during the previous testing.

"Gov. Mead felt that this process was an improvement on how the first draft report from the EPA was done. It was more transparent. The team had input throughout the process," Mead spokesman Renny MacKay said Tuesday.

Even so, the EPA plans to post its own data separately, EPA Region 8 spokesman Rich Mylott said.

"All EPA data have gone through the agency's quality assurance process," Mylott said by email Tuesday.

EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson in Washington said Wednesday she did not know what data the EPA might release or when that might happen.

Testing by the EPA this past spring included new samples from five domestic water wells in the Pavillion area. That sampling happened outside the collaborative process.

One person each from the EPA, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, and the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation near Pavillion peer-reviewed the collaborative data, according to MacKay.

A full peer review of the sampling and findings to date will occur later.

MacKay said Mead wants "science and a good process" to guide any new findings.

"The governor's position has always been he wants this investigation to play out and whatever it finds, you move on from there," he said.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. billy banger
    Report Abuse
    billy banger - September 26, 2012 2:33 pm
    If you are talking about the USGS water quality people they are the highest standard for unbiased sampling and avoiding contamination. I have seen and read their protocols and they are the standard in court. I have watched industry people sample and quite often they do not even rinse the coffee cup they use to get the sample.
  2. Michael
    Report Abuse
    Michael - September 26, 2012 8:48 am
    Billy, you are WAY off base on this one. I have seen these guys (these exact guys) sample on other sites. I would fire them if they worked for me. They can't even follow their own protocols.
  3. Howard Wilkinson
    Report Abuse
    Howard Wilkinson - September 26, 2012 8:13 am
    The Mead administration has actively worked against any efforts to do this testing. He has slandered the EPA and it's process to the extent of suggesting dishonesty, bias and / or carelessness in their process. Making absurd suggestions such as implying that tankers supplying drilling water contained the very contaminants which would be found where fracking had polluted ground water. His rabid and unrealistic attacks demonstrate that he has no interest in discovering the truth, or in protecting the citizens of Wyoming. The drilling industry is a higher priority to this governor than the health and well being of Wyoming's citizens. Hopefully in another two years he will pay the price for his indifference to Wyoming's citizens!
  4. billy banger
    Report Abuse
    billy banger - September 26, 2012 7:45 am
    When the EPA samples for contamination they do not need a collaborative process since they are the ones that usually develop the protocols for unbiased sampling and saying they need input from the companies that they are investigating is a smokescreen to cast doubt on their methods which are beyond question. It will be interesting what excuses they come up if the findings are confirmed by the USGS.

Comment policy

We provide this forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the day's news. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and abuse are not. You must be logged into a personal account on Facebook to comment (FAQ). Readers are responsible for their comments and abuse of this privilege will not be tolerated. We reserve the right, without warning or notification, to remove comments and block users we determine violate our Terms of Service. Comments reflect the opinions of the author - not those of The Billings Gazette or its parent company.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

More from the Gazette

Does Wyoming’s school security tip line need an upgrade?

6 hours ago(0)
Cold winter: Oil and gas sheds 1,300 Wyoming jobs since December

Cold winter: Oil and gas sheds 1,300 Wyoming jobs since December

13 hours ago(1)

UW employees to receive raises

March 28, 2015 7:00 pm(0)

Plane lands safely on U.S. highway in Wyoming

March 28, 2015 6:48 pm(0)

Game and Fish Commission elects new officers

March 28, 2015 6:45 pm(0)

Wyoming considers new FEMA climate change rules

March 28, 2015 8:00 am(0)

UW hires new Law School dean

March 28, 2015 6:00 am(0)

Veteran outreach planned

March 27, 2015 2:36 pm(0)

Speakers chosen for April 17 TEDx conference in Cody

March 27, 2015 1:01 pm(0)

Wyoming population reaches estimated 584,000 in 2014

March 27, 2015 10:34 am(0)

Hwy. 59 work will delay other state road projects

March 27, 2015 6:00 am(0)
Report details investigation of Campbell County sheriff

Report details investigation of Campbell County sheriff

March 26, 2015 7:30 pm(0)
UW announces $15 million donation from Hess Corporation

UW announces $15 million donation from Hess Corporation

March 26, 2015 7:00 pm Photos



Gillette company does work for NASA

March 26, 2015 3:00 pm(0)

Follow The Billings Gazette

Popular Stories

Get weekly ads via e-mail

Deals & Offers

Featured Businesses