August 13, 2014

Are Oil And Gas Companies Fracking Wyoming’s Water?

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Frac job in progress.

Joshua Doubek/Wikimedia Commons

Frac job in progress.

According to an article out today in the LA Times, yes. What does that mean? It’s unclear. The article, which cites an unpublished study by researchers at Stanford University, says:

“Companies used acid stimulation and hydraulic fracturing at depths of the deepest water wells near the Pavillion gas field, at 700 to 750 feet, far shallower than fracking was previously thought to occur in the area.”

Pavillion, Wyoming, you’ll remember, is ground zero in the fight over whether fracking causes water contamination. So what does it mean if companies were fracking at the same depth as water wells? It’s unclear. The researchers say it doesn’t necessarily mean that oil and gas is to blame for the groundwater contamination.

“The extent and consequences of these activities are poorly documented, hindering assessments of potential resource damage and human exposure,” [Dominic] DiGiulio wrote.

Wyoming oil and gas regulations prohibit contamination of drinking water aquifers, and a report released by the state last week concluded that there’s no evidence that gas wells in the Pavillion area polluted groundwater. But report author Bob King did say that he would like to see more detailed information about the “frac jobs” completed at each well. It appears this might just be that research.