EPA Finds Fracking Chemical in Wyo. Drinking Water
But the agency is hesitant to link the natural gas drilling process to the contaminated water.
In Pavillion, Wyo., where residents have complained of black, gasoline-scented drinking water for nearly a decade, the Environmental Protection Agency discovered high levels of cancer-causing compounds and at least one chemical commonly used in hydraulic fracturing in the area's water supply, according to ProPublica.
The EPA has yet to interpret its recent findings and has been cautious in linking the pollution to natural gas drilling; however, the contaminated water samples match the deep underground layers being drilled for gas and not the shallow groundwater, suggesting a correlation.
The Pavillion area is home to hundreds of natural gas wells that have been drilled extensively for two decades. Some residents allege that they suffer from neurological impairment, loss of smell and nerve pain associated with exposure to pollutants.
Among the chemicals found in the aquifer were benzene -- at 50 times the level that is considered safe for people, phenols, acetone, toluene, naphthalene and traces of diesel fuel.
Meanwhile, environmentalists, energy companies, and people living nearby natural gas wells are awaiting the results of a nationwide study of fracking's effects on drinking water that the EPA is set to release in 2012, according to Reuters.
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