Pavillion investigation focuses on pollution source

Reproduced by permission from WyoFile. (Click here to read the entire post.)

by Dustin Bleizeffer on February 25, 2011

The latest development in the years-long controversy over poor drinking water quality outside Pavillion will play out on Tuesday when state regulators will hold a public meeting to discuss a new strategy.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will hold a public “working group” meeting from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 1, at the Pavillion Recreation Center in Pavillion.

“The purpose of this meeting, is to allow the working groups to share and gather information that will hopefully lead to a solution of these water quality issues,” DEQ administrator John Corra said in a prepared statement this week.

In recent months, the state agencies have formed two new working groups. One will focus on the integrity of active and inactive well bores in the area as a potential source of hydrocarbons and other contaminants found in several domestic water wells in recent years. The other group will focus on “mud pits” — which are used to hold mud and drilling fluids while an oil or natural gas well is drilled — as a potential source.

Corra said that initially only two among some 27 known mud pits in the area were thought to be polluted. But the agency is going to take a closer look.

“There was some question of, well, could there have been some seepage from those 25 (mud pits) that could be a source? So we’re going to take a look at that,” Corra told WyoFile in January.

This new emphasis on pits and well bores may please local residents as well as industry. Residents say it’s essential to understand the source of the pollution to avoid long-term health dangers. And the oil and gas industry claims that the drinking water contamination has been unfairly pinned on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

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