EPA study links fracking to groundwater pollution


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.