EPA Warns of Tainted Drinking Water in Wyoming Town

Residents of a small Wyoming town near extensive natural gas drilling have been warned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not to drink their local water following new water testing in the area.

The investigative news organization ProPublica reports that the EPA cautioned residents of Pavillion after a new round of testing and analysis of 23 wells and shallow groundwater in the area.

The government tests revealed dangerous levels of, among other substances, benzene, methane and naphthalene. They also confirmed the presence of additional compounds identified in preliminary testing last summer.

The most recent results prompted authorities to recommend that residents find alternate sources of water for drinking and cooking. Officials said it was  too early to determine whether gas drilling in the area has caused the contamination.

Although it has not accepted responsibility for the contamination, Encana Oil & Gas, the company that owns most of the wells in the area, is working with the EPA to provide the 160 residents of Pavillion with clean drinking water.

The EPA, which began investigating Pavillion’s water in 2008, is expected to release its final report early next year.

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One comment to “EPA Warns of Tainted Drinking Water in Wyoming Town”

  1. Brady Russell - E. PA Director, Clean Water Action

    I work for Clean Water Action and have been trying to do some work researching the chemicals listed in the EPAs fact sheet. One question I can’t quite figure out: how likely are things like adamantane, napthalene and xylene to appear in drinking water naturally? I see them all listed as “naturally occurring in petroleum,” but I didn’t think petroleum was natural.

    This is a bit over my head, but some analysis on that would be great. My gut tells me it’s very very unlikely to find these compounds in groundwater naturally, which would point to the drillers. But is that right?

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