Wyoming Town Warned to Use Fans While Showering to Avoid Chemical Explosions

Friday, September 03, 2010
Louis Meeks of Pavillion, Wyoming with a sample of his well water (photo: Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica)

Drinking tap or well water for the residents of Pavillion, Wyoming (population: 165) is out of the question, and showering or washing dishes requires fan ventilation to avoid the risk of explosions, thanks to chemical contamination in the oil and gas drilling region.

Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) informed locals that testing revealed the presence of benzene, lead, phthalate, nitrate, 2-butoxyethanol phosphate, petroleum hydrocarbons, methane and high levels of sodium in wells and in groundwater.
The EPA stopped short of blaming EnCana, the Canadian oil and gas company that owns most of the wells near Pavillion, for the contamination, saying it needed to conduct more testing. Although it has not accepted responsibility for the problem, EnCana, which bills itself as a leader in “unconventional natural gas production,” has promised to pay for water deliveries or filtration for homes, but has yet to work out the details.
EnCana has been using a controversial extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”), which involves injecting fluids and sand into rock formations to reach deep reserves of natural gas and oil.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Pavillion, Wyoming-Area Residents Told Not To Drink Water (by Dustin Bleizeffer, Casper Star-Tribune)
Community Health Survey Results Pavillion, Wyoming Residents (by Wilma Subra, Subra Company for Earthworks) (pdf)


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