image via Gasland
I lived in Wyoming for 8 years and it breaks my heart that the state's landscape is being so significantly altered by the oil, coal and gas industry. I never visited the town of Pavillion when I was in Wyoming, and now I don't have much of a desire to go there after federal officials told locals to avoid drinking their tap water and to make sure they have ventilation when showering. Pavillion is located close to several natural gas drilling sites. ProPublica, the amazing investigative news organization, has been tracking this story and they broke the news that officials from the EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry told locals that their water is no longer safe. The feds stopped short of blaming the natural gas mines nearby.
"Last week it became clear to us that the information that we had gathered" "was going to potentially result in a hazard -- result in a recommendation to some of you that you not continue to drink your water," Martin Hestmark, deputy assistant regional administrator for ecosystems protection and remediation with the EPA in Denver, told a crowd of about 100 gathered at a community center in Pavillion Tuesday night. "We understand the gravity of that."
Representatives of the EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which made the health recommendation, said they had not determined the cause of the contamination and said it was too early to tell whether gas drilling was to blame. In addition to contaminants related to oil and gas, the agency detected pesticides in some wells, and significant levels of nitrates in one sample -- signs that agricultural pollution could be partly to blame. The EPA's final report on Pavillion's water is expected early next year.
Luckily for the people of Pavillion, EnCana, the operators of the natural gas wells, is providing drinking water. Maybe Pavillion can star in Gasland 2?