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Friday, December 9,2011

EPA study links fracking to groundwater pollution

By Boulder Weekly Staff

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released data indicating that groundwater can be contaminated by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

The EPA released a draft analysis of data from its three-year Pavillion, Wyo., groundwater investigation on Dec. 8. The EPA began investigating the private drinking water wells to address Pavillion residents’ concerns about the quality of their water and the hydraulic fracturing practices in the area.

The study shows that groundwater sampled in the aquifer where fracking is taking place contains synthetic chemicals such as glycols and alcohols associated with gas production and fracking, benzene concentrations well above Safe Drinking Water Act standards and high methane levels, according to an EPA news release. The aquifer in Pavillion is located close to the private drinking wells, which may affect the safety of drinking water over time, the release states.

The EPA is releasing its findings to the public and will submit them to an independent scientific review panel for analysis.

“EPA’s highest priority remains ensuring that Pavillion residents have access to safe drinking water,” Jim Martin, EPA’s regional administrator in Denver, said in the release. “We will continue to work cooperatively with the state, tribes, Encana and the community to secure long-term drinking water solutions. We look forward to having these findings in the draft report informed by a transparent and public review process. In consultation with the tribes, EPA will also work with the state on additional investigation of the Pavillion field.”

The EPA has begun a separate national study on the potential impacts of fracking on drinking water resources, at the direction of Congress.

For more information on EPA's Pavillion groundwater investigation, visit www.epa.gov/region8/superfund/wy/pavillion/index.html.

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