The Environmental Protection Agency announced today that for the first time they have found evidence of groundwater pollution as a result of hydraulic fracturing.
The EPA discovered chemicals in a drinking water aquifer in west-central Wyoming. Residents were claiming that their well water reeked of chemicals, says Time.
“Samples taken from two deep-water monitoring wells in Pavillion, Wyoming, showed synthetic chemicals such as glycols and alcohols ‘consistent with gas production and hydraulic fracturing fluids,’ the agency said today in an e-mailed statement,” reports Bloomberg.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a controversial method of extracting shale gas that has played a huge role in opening up many gas reserves in the U.S.. During the fracking process millions of gallons of water with chemical additives are injected into the rock, giving it a higher permeability and allowing oil and gas resources to flow with ease.
This finding could have negative effects on the drilling industry, and could influence states that have been trying to determine how to regulate this already controversial process. Until now, the oil and gas industries have argued that fracking is safe.
The EPA’s announcement is their first step in a process to bring findings up for review by both the public and scientists.
"EPA's highest priority remains ensuring that Pavillion residents have access to safe drinking water," said Jim Martin, EPA regional administrator in Denver, reports NPR. "We look forward to having these findings in the draft report informed by a transparent and public review process."
The Pavillion area is the only site found to have groundwater pollution occur as a result of fracking. The EPA notes that a different method of fracking had been used in this location than in other areas, and drilling is typically done in more remote locations away from drinking water.
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