EPA report connects fracking to water pollution in Wyoming

Above: A photo from the EPA's draft report of contaminated groundwater being sampled in Pavillion, Wyoming. Note the foam. Photo on page 3 of Appendix D of "Draft: Investigation into Groundwater Contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming."

For the first time, a federal agency has found that that hydraulic fracturing has led to water contamination.

In a draft report released on Wednesday, December 8, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated that groundwater in the town of Pavillion, Wyoming was contaminated with synthetic organic compounds and petroleum hydrocarbons such as benzene by nearby hydraulic fracturing operations which have been running since the 1960s. 

The report's summary states that "the data indicates likely impact to ground water that can be explained by hydraulic fracturing." The body of the report goes into much more detail about why hydraulic fracturing seems to be the culprit for the contamination. Here's a quote from the report's conclusion, on page 33:

Detection of contaminants in ground water from deep sources of contamination (production wells, hydraulic fracturing) ... [required] a multiple lines of reasoning approach common to complex scientific investigations ... Using this approach, the explanation best fitting the data for the deep monitoring wells is that constituents associated with hydraulic fracturing have been released into the Wind River drinking water aquifer at depths above the current production zone.

The report goes on to outline 12 lines of reasoning that point to hydraulic fracturing as the cause of the contamination.

This is a gamechanger. This report is the first real look at how the EPA will weigh in on hydraulic fracturing. New York state is on the edge of issuing its regulations for fracking, and the EPA's concerns about the possibility for contaminating groundwater could have a big impact on the final regs. 

You can read the EPA's report below, or on the EPA's website here. Here are a few links to stories from around the nation about the report: 


Associated Press

Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

EPA Report Groundwater Contamination