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Wyoming: Gas field pollution studies nearly done

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 5, 2014 at 5:07 pm •  Published: June 5, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — State officials planning to meet with homeowners affected by tainted groundwater in a central Wyoming gas field said they have finished one investigation and were wrapping up another into possible causes of the pollution.

No further details have been released regarding what might have been learned since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency implicated hydraulic fracturing in a 2011 report.

State officials intend to allow independent experts, followed by the EPA and gas field owner Encana, to review and comment on the state reports. A Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission consultant will make any necessary changes before the reports are released to the public, said Jeremiah Rieman, energy policy adviser to Gov. Matt Mead.

"We don't want to be in the position of providing draft conclusions that ultimately may change entirely based on other reviews that need to take place," Rieman said Wednesday.

He said he would push for the reports to be released "sooner rather than later."

On June 12, state officials plan to meet with residents near the tiny Fremont County community of Pavillion to discuss the studies and an ongoing program to supply affected homeowners with cisterns and trucked-in household water.

"I hope they have some good, new information," said Deb Thomas of the group Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens.

Some residents said their well water turned foul-smelling after gas development began to pick up in their area a decade ago.

In December 2011, the EPA announced that it suspected hydraulic fracturing played a role in tainting the water.

Never before had the federal government blamed a specific case of groundwater contamination on the petroleum industry practice of using a pressurized mix of water, fine sand and chemicals to fracture oil- and gas-bearing rock.

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