Pavillion

Stephanie Joyce

The State has released the second of three reports into the cause of groundwater contamination outside the town of Pavillion, in Fremont County. Many suspect that nearby oil and gas development is responsible. The state released its first report in August. That one looked at whether there were problems with the natural gas wells themselves that could explain the contamination and concluded that more study is necessary.

There’s no link between gas wells and groundwater contamination near Pavillion, according to a draft study out Wednesday from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. It’s the first of three reports looking into what caused the contamination, which some blame on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The reviewers looked at the gas wells themselves to determine if they were leaking or otherwise damaged.

The state says it will release both the draft and final versions of reports investigating water contamination in Pavillion. The clarification comes after landowners wrote a letter to Governor Matt Mead protesting the state’s plan to release the draft to Encana, the oil and gas company some accuse of polluting the water, before releasing it to the public.

Mead's spokesperson, Renny MacKay, says by releasing both copies, and the comments provided by Encana, the Environmental Protection Agency and an independent expert, the public will be able to see the evolution of the document.

A program to provide clean water to residents of Pavillion will get underway in the next week. The town has problems with contaminated well water, which some attribute to nearby oil and gas development. An investigation into the source of the contamination is ongoing, but the governor’s natural resources policy advisor, Jerimiah Rieman, says the state felt it had a responsibility to take action -- not only for residents’ health, but also their assets.

Governor Matt Mead is committing $400,000 dollars for water delivery to households with cisterns in the Pavillion area. Residents have long complained of unusable well water, which some blame on nearby natural gas development. The money is part of a grant from Encana Oil and Gas, which operates in the Pavillion gas field.

19 cisterns are currently being installed, with another 13 households signed up.

The Governor’s Natural Resources Policy Advisor, Jerimiah Rieman, says residents will meet later this week to discuss how to use the money.

Irina Zhorov

Some landowners with oil and gas wells on their property complain about emissions affecting their air quality and health. But though there may be a lot of wells, they’re considered small facilities, so their cumulative effects are never counted up and regulations are more lax than for large emitters. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that that could be a problem since in aggregate, their pollution can be significant.  

A cistern installation project for Pavillion-area residents may need more funds from the legislature. The state allocated $750,000 dollars to install clean water cisterns for households with polluted groundwater. All but $100,000 dollars is already contracted out and 9 additional applications are underway.

But Governor Matt Mead’s natural resource policy advisor, Jerimiah Rieman, says the true budget won’t be known until the first round of cisterns is installed.

As the state initiates its investigation of water quality issues in Pavillion, two state agencies plan to review existing data before deciding how to proceed. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Department of Environmental Quality will look at the well bore integrity of about 50 oil and gas wells within a quarter mile of 14 domestic water wells that had at least one pollutant at levels above drinking water standards. 

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission says it hopes to file a report about well bore integrity in Pavillion by the end of the year.

The report will be part of a larger effort to figure out the causes of groundwater contamination in Pavillion. The study will include a total of about 50 oil and gas exploration and production wells located within a quarter mile of 14 domestic water wells.

The next Pavillion Working Group meeting has been scheduled for August, in Riverton. The working group includes state agency, landowner, tribal, and industry stakeholders.

The working group will be providing updates to the community on the status of their investigations into pit and well bore integrity, and as much as possible, domestic water wells.  

Governor Matt Mead says he trusts the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to deliver trustworthy results when it takes over the Pavillion water contamination study from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A draft of the study initiated by the EPA was released in 2011 and tentatively linked groundwater contamination with fracking, something industry expressed skepticism about.

Mead says he’s not sure yet whether the state study will be peer reviewed once it’s completed.

Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov caught up with Governor Matt Mead to check in about some big changes in the state in the coming months. Her first question was about the Environmental Protection Agency’s report on contaminated water in Pavillion and the state’s takeover of the study.

Though the entities involved in the study have previously expressed skepticism over the EPA’s findings, Governor Mead says he has no doubts that the state’s study will be unbiased.

Wyoming’s Governor says the state will work hard to find out what contaminated water in Pavillion , and will develop a long term solution to the water woes for residents in the area. 

Last month the E-P-A announced it was relinquishing its role in a study that had tentatively linked hydraulic fracturing with groundwater pollution. Landowners are upset with that the fact that the state will now handle the investigation.  Governor Matt Mead says the E-P-A was taking too long.            

Environmental groups say they’re disappointed that the Environmental Protection Agency has handed over control of the Pavillion water quality study to the state.

In 2011, the EPA issued a draft report tentatively linking groundwater contamination to fracking around Pavillion. Yesterday, the agency announced that it will not finalize that report.

Richard Garrett with the Wyoming Outdoors Council says he’s unhappy with EPA’s decision.

Landowners in Wyoming are upset that the Environmental Protection Agency is relinquishing its role in a study that could link hydraulic fracturing with groundwater pollution.

The State of Wyoming is taking over an investigation of water quality in Pavillion, from the EPA. Encana Oil and Gas has natural gas wells in the area…and the EPA started testing water wells there after residents complained that the water was becoming polluted. The agency released a draft report in 2011, which tentatively linked the contamination to fracking.

The Environmental Protection Agency is abandoning its plan to confirm hydraulic fracturing is linked to groundwater pollution in central Wyoming.

A draft news release obtained today by The Associated Press says the EPA won't have independent scientists review its finding that fracking may have caused the pollution.

EPA spokesman Tom Reynolds in Washington, D.C., confirms the information.

The EPA says it won't finalize its report on the issue. Instead, it will let state officials investigate.

‘Gasland 2’, a sequel to the 2010 documentary ‘Gasland,’ premiers this weekend in New York City. The original film focused on land owners alleging that oil and gas development on their land contaminated their water sources. The movie is thought to have brought the terms ‘fracking’ into the mainstream. The films’ director, Josh Fox, says the sequel investigates how government and regulatory agencies have dealt with what affected land owners say is contamination by industry.

Pavillion Working Group Has New Issue To Address

Oct 11, 2012

A working group looking into groundwater contamination near Pavillion is still debating findings of contamination of water wells near the town. 

State officials are still studying the results of a U.S.  Geological Survey test and some possible conflicting information with an Environmental Protection Agency study. 

Last week, the U-S Geological Survey released testing it did on water wells near the town of Pavillion.

Governor Matt Mead says the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is still reviewing the data and he’s not prepared to comment until he reads their analysis.  The Environmental Protection Agency did follow-up testing as well and should release those results soon. 

Earlier the E-P-A suggested fracking may have contaminated area water wells.  The Governor says if it turns out that the E-P-A results are confirmed, the state will address it.              

The U.S. Geological Survey has released new data about groundwater testing near Pavillion. The testing was meant to provide additional information about whether hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, caused water contamination there.

Keith Guille with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality says no one quite knows what the results mean yet, because the USGS only provided raw numbers, not analysis.

HOST: In December, the Environmental Protection Agency released a draft report tentatively linking water contamination in the town of Pavillion to hydraulic fracturing activities in the area. The release of the draft report caused a spectacle, and state, federal and tribal agencies have now caught in a bureaucratic holding pattern, while residents affected by contaminated water wait in a form of investigative limbo. Wyoming Public Radio’s Tristan Ahtone attended a recent Pavillion Work Group meeting to get updates on the investigation.

Residents in the town of Pavillion will soon be able to receive water cistern systems. A cistern is a water holding tank.  Pavillion is at the center of an ongoing Environmental Protection Agency investigation on whether hydraulic fracturing has contaminated the towns drinking water.

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Supervisor resigns

Jun 14, 2012

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Supervisor Tom Doll has resigned. 

Doll recently apologized for saying greed is motivating people in the Pavillion area who blame hydraulic fracturing for polluting the groundwater around the small central Wyoming community. 

The remark was made at a meeting of regulators in Vancouver.  Renny MacKay, a spokesman for Governor Mead said that Doll’s remarks didn’t reflect the view of the Matt Mead administration.    

Wyoming plans to install water cisterns at the homes of residents in the Pavillion area’s natural gas field. An EPA draft report suggests contaminants in area wells are connected to hydraulic fracturing, but state officials say the cause of the contamination is unknown.
 

As testing continues on whether fracking contaminated groundwater in the Pavillion area, Governor Matt Mead and state officials will host a meeting next week on a new way to get fresh water to citizens. 

Mead says they are considering a cistern system where each resident would have a water tank to hold their water supply.  Water for the tanks would be trucked from Riverton or Lander.  One issue is how to pay for it.  Governor Mead says the Environmental Protection Agency is not set up to help pay for such a project and getting the gas company Encana to pay is a bit tricky.

A group of Pavillion residents says Wyoming officials betrayed them by delaying the release of information tentatively connecting hydraulic fracturing with groundwater pollution in the area.

An Associated Press investigation shows that Gov. Matt Mead convinced the Environmental Protection Agency to delay its draft report on the contamination by a full month. Mead and other state officials used the extra time to try and debunk the findings before they could harm the oil and gas industries.

A new independent review of the E-P-A study on hydraulic fracturing in Pavillion confirms the link between water contamination and fracking. The review was requested by a conglomerate of environmental groups.

One of the criticisms of the E-P-A study was that it was poorly conducted science, and therefore, put forth unreliable conclusions. But the hydrologic consultant who did the review, Tom Myers, says the E-P-A did goodwork.

State, tribal and federal officials have agreed to work collaboratively in Pavillion to do further sampling and collect more data in their water monitoring wells. The move is expected to push back a final report on a possible link between water contamination and hydraulic fracturing in the area until later this year.

With problems over water contamination in the town of Pavillion, and possible actions to remediate a contaminated uranium site on the Wind River Reservation,  tribal officials have pushed to be the lead agency in both situations, as the areas impacted are within the boundaries of the reservation and impact tribal trust assets.

Senate addresses Pavillion water with money

Feb 20, 2012

The Wyoming Senate has approved adding 750-thousand dollars for a water system to help residents of Pavillion whose water may be contaminated. The E-P-A has indicated that a number of residents should not drink water from their wells do to high levels of contaminants. 

Senator Eli Bebout asked for the funding in the omnibus water bill, but senator Charles Scott questioned why the State needs to pay for the water and wondered how bad it really was. 

Bebout said that for some, the water is a problem.

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