New Study Confirms Fracking Contamination That The EPA Walked Back On In 2011

A new study out of Stanford University offers residents of Pavillion, Wyoming a little more clarity on an issue that has been plaguing them for nearly a decade: is hydraulic fracturing to blame for years of contamination in their drinking water?

The town initially made headlines in 2008, when residents began complaining of strange odors and tastes in their drinking water. In 2011 the EPA got involved, first issuing a draft report that connected fracking to the contamination. The agency later walked back on the report, however, and refused to issue a finalized version and instead handing the matter over to state officials. Years later, the state has yet to move forward with the report.

So researchers at Stanford decided to take measures into their own hands, looking at publicly available records and documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act to see if they could pinpoint the source of Pavillion’s water contamination. Their conclusion, which was published earlier this week in Environmental Science and Technology, was that fracking operations near Pavillion have had a clear influence on the quality of groundwater.

Using data from two EPA-monitored wells as well as state reviews of natural gas wells, drinking water wells, and drilling pits, the study found that chemicals associated with fracking had migrated from underground storage wells and unlined storage pits into aquifers that supply Pavillion residents with their drinking water.

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