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DEQ report: Fracking unlikely culprit in Pavillion

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality released its final report on the Pavillion investigation Thursday, again concluding it was unlikely that hydraulic fracturing polluted nearby residential water wells in the area.

The study concluded there was no evidence that fluids from hydraulic fracturing had risen through groundwater to the level of domestic water wells. The DEQ said their investigation had also turned up no evidence of contamination from surface pits that held production water and other wastes from fracking. The final report thus supported the initial conclusions of a draft released in December 2015 – and criticized by outside researchers, residents of Pavillion and conservation groups like the Powder River Resource Basin Council.

The Environmental Protection Agency first began looking at Pavillion water wells in 2008. But the state of Wyoming took over the investigation after industry spokesmen and Gov. Matt Mead criticized as unscientific an early EPA report about groundwater contamination in the area.

The Powder River Basin Resource Council and Pavillion Area Concerned Residents responded to Thursday’s final DEQ report, saying the state of Wyoming and oil and gas company Encana continue to underplay contamination and deliberately underperform in investigations.

“The state and Encana have steadfastly refused to acknowledge that contamination from oil and gas development can be linked to polluted drinking water in the Pavillion area,” resident John Fenton said in the statement. “The data indicates that domestic water wells have been impacted by oil and gas extraction activities in the Pavillion Field and it’s past time for both the State of Wyoming and Encana to publicly acknowledge the public health consequences and do something to make us whole.”

There will be a public meeting on the report’s findings scheduled for early December, in Riverton.

The full report can be found on the DEQ’s website below:

http://deq.wyoming.gov/wqd/pavillion-investigation/resources/investigation-final-report/

For previous WyoFile reporting on Pavillion, click here.

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Andrew Graham is reporting for WyoFile from Laramie. He covers state government, energy and the economy. Reach him at 443-848-8756 or at [email protected], follow him @AndrewGraham88

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