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EPA resumes groundwater testing in Pavillion area

Associated Press Modified: April 19, 2012 at 6:45 pm •  Published: April 19, 2012

"As part of the sampling, there will be a split sample and EPA will have some of that water analyzed in their labs. Then USGS will analyze the samples that we take," Ozman said.

The Geological Survey will test its samples either in-house or at a contracted outside lab, he said.

Fracking involves pumping water mixed with chemicals and fine sand down oil and gas wells to open up fissures and improve production. Environmentalists say fracking can pollute groundwater and the Pavillion report marked the first time the EPA had theorized such a link in a specific case.

The company operating in the Pavillion gas field is skeptical of the new testing. Experts working with Encana question how the EPA went about drilling two wells used to collect groundwater samples, said Doug Hock, a spokesman for the Calgary, Alberta-based petroleum company.

Cement used to construct the monitoring wells probably caused high pH in earlier sampling that contributed to the draft EPA finding, according to a letter dated Wednesday from Encana Vice President John Schopp to the EPA.

"The current condition of the EPA monitoring wells would make it difficult, if not impossible, to rehabilitate these wells to generate accurate groundwater monitoring data," the letter stated.

EPA spokesman Rich Mylott said the agency remains confident in the way that the monitoring wells were constructed.