Locals object to plan for Pavillion water reports

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 11, 2014 at 4:58 pm •  Published: July 11, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — People dealing with polluted groundwater in the Pavillion area have objected that a gas developer can review and comment on two state investigations involving the contamination before the public is allowed to see the reports.

Representatives of Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens filed a state records request Thursday seeking the draft reports. They say Wyoming law doesn't provide for Pavillion gas field owner Encana to review the reports before the general public.

"We believe that the state is obligated by law to release any reports or documents to the public and the Pavillion Area Working Group at the same time they are released to Encana and the EPA," John Fenton and Jeff Locker of the citizens group wrote to Gov. Matt Mead.

The Pavillion Area Working Group — comprised of state and federal officials and local residents — has been monitoring federal and state efforts to determine what caused the well water of some homeowners to turn foul and smell like petrochemicals around the time gas drilling picked up in the area eight years ago.

In December, 2011, a draft report released by the EPA found that hydraulic fracturing may have played a role in groundwater contamination in the Pavillion area. The report caused a nationwide stir as environmentalists said it confirmed their fears that fracking — the process of boosting production from oil and gas wells by fracturing rock with pressurized water — can pollute groundwater.

State and Encana officials were deeply skeptical, however. To this day, the EPA has not finalized its report or submitted it for peer review.

The federal agency handed off its Pavillion investigation to Wyoming officials last summer.

Both upcoming reports will detail recent investigations by the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission into the cause of the problem. The reports could go to Encana and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for review within weeks.

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