chemicals from hydraulic fracturing, a process used in gas and oil well development, showing up in some domestic water wells in rural Wyoming. Pavillion, Wyoming is a hotbed of drilling for natural gas and the fracking process is used heavily. Many area residents have complained about strange smells and tastes in their drinking water since drilling began some 15 years ago. Local resident Louis Meeks was one of the landowners featured in the article.
EPA tests found methane gas, hydrocarbons, lead and copper contamination in many of the wells tested. Meeks claimed that he had good water for thirty years prior to the commencement of gas drilling in the area. Canadian oil and gas giant EnCana corporation, who is responsible for gas drilling operations near Pavillion has been supplying Meeks and other residents with domestic water since the dispute began. Meeks and others filed a lawsuit against EnCana and through mediation agreed to accept water delivery until a cause was found. An EnCana spokesman said “We’ve been supplying water to Mr. Meeks for several years and we have been doing it as no obligation, just because we want to be a good neighbor…” Apparently, since the EPA began their own testing using Superfund regulations, which may implicate the company, the oil giant has lost some of that neighborliness. Meeks and other residents have been notified that since EnCana’s own testing can’t prove that the contamination came from their operations, they will cease providing residents with drinking water effective on Monday.
EPA has tentatively identified drilling compounds in local wells that may be tied to EnCana operations, but EPA testing will continue until next spring before a final report is issued. Two bills have been introduced in Congress to end the exemption that hydraulic fracturing enjoys under the Clean Water Act. In the meantime, Meeks says, “I have a hot-water heater to heat my home, so if they take my water I won’t have no heat for our house. We can’t use our toilets, can’t bathe or nothing.” Pavillion is going to get a bit more smelly.
For more information about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, see previous Bugle articles.