Alarming levels of cancer-causing compounds and at lest one chemical used in fracking have been discovered by a set of environmental monitoring wells in a Pavillion, Wyoming aquifer. The results are from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which collected water samples from at least 42 homes in the area after reports of foul water and health concerns emerged.
The area has gone through extensive drilling for natural gas over the past 20 years, housing hundreds of gas wells. For at least half that time, residents have claimed the drilling and hydraulic fracturing have caused their water to smell like gasoline and turn black. Some even claim to suffer neurological disorders, loss of smell and nerve pain, which they associate with pollutants in the water.
The gas industry has denied any link to the contamination of the water. EnCana, the Canadian company leading the wells in Pavillion, has also supplied the residents with clean drinking water.
The EPA’s information was purely raw sampling data. They did not interpret any findings or make an attempt to identify the cause of the pollution. Throughout the investigation, the EPA has carefully considered all possible causes of the water contamination, distancing their research and reports from controversy surrounding hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Regardless, the chemical compounds found by the EPA are the same as those produced from drilling processes. They also said they have not found any contaminants such as fertilizers or nitrates that could have suggested agricultural activities as the source of the problem.
Aside from the fracking-related chemical, the wells also contained phenols – a dangerous carcinogen – toluene, acetone, naphthalene, traces of diesel, and benzene.
EnCana will soon be selling these wells to Texas-based company Legacy Reserves, and has pledged to cooperate with the ongoing EPA investigation. Detailed reports of the Pavillion findings will be released by the EPA later this month.