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Wyoming to Test Pavillion Groundwater, with Encana’s Blessing

A plan to test groundwater at Pavillion, WY, where residents have complained about possible contamination related to natural gas well drilling, has the support of Encana Corp., which has a leasehold there.

According to the plan, prepared by Acton-Mickelson-Environmental Inc. and released last week by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, private water wells in the area will be sampled this month and again in August, with the samples tested for a variety of contaminants, including volatile organic compounds, trace metals and stable isotopes.

"We support the efforts by the State of Wyoming to answer concerns of landowners in the Pavillion area related to the palatability of their water and have continued to cooperate in the ongoing investigation," Encana spokesman Doug Hock told NGI's Shale Daily Monday.

The plan comes nine months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discontinued the public comment period of its draft research report on alleged groundwater contamination from natural gas wells drilled near Pavillion (see Shale DailySept. 12, 2013).

Last year, Wyoming announced that it would take the lead in the continuing investigation of the potential impact of natural gas production activities on drinking water in the Pavillion region, with the cooperation of the EPA, which suspended activity on its investigation (see Shale DailyJune 24, 2013).

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said at that time that EPA had decided that states hold the responsibility for regulating energy development. Mead said the Wyoming would conclude its investigation, which would involve as many as 14 water wells in Pavillion's oil/gas field, and release a final report by Sept. 30, 2014.

Controversy erupted in December 2011 after the EPA released a draft report that said chemicals normally used in natural gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking), were present in groundwater samples collected in Pavillion over a two-year period (seeShale Daily, Dec. 13, 2011). It was the first time a federal agency had linked groundwater pollution with fracking.

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