EPA says Wyoming water test results ‘consistent’

The latest round of test results on water in Pavillion, Wyo., show pollutants “consistent” with those from last year that were used to link water problems in that town to hydraulic fracturing, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

The EPA Wednesday issued a report on analyses of two test wells it drilled, and of five residents’ wells, which it agreed to do after Encana Corp., the company that leases the gas field there, and officials from the state of Wyoming criticized the EPA’s conclusions and testing methods.

The new results “are generally consistent with the monitoring data included” in EPA’s December draft report, Alisha Johnson, an agency spokeswoman, said in an email.

The EPA’s draft report in December was the first U.S. government finding to link hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and water contamination. The EPA also pushed back a deadline for public comment on that report, and the follow-up data released today, until Jan. 15, 2013.

Encana, based in Calgary, owns 140 natural-gas wells in an area of cattle and hay farms outside of Pavillion, about 230 miles northeast of Salt Lake City. The company argues that contaminants found in water wells are naturally occurring, and the two test wells that the EPA drilled in 2010 were improperly constructed.

“EPA has provided no sound scientific evidence that drilling has impacted domestic drinking water wells in the area,” Doug Hock, a spokesman for Encana, said in an email. “Encana didn’t put the hydrocarbons there; nature did.”