Pavillion water experts fault leaky gas wells, unlined pits
PAVILLION — Three scientists say groundwater pollution in Pavillion is likely caused by gas seeping from inadequately lined gas wells, a porous geology and the dumping over years of up to 880,000 gallons of chemical effluent into 40 unlined pits.
The tainted water affects homes and ranches in the 12-square-mile Pavillion gas field where about 169 gas wells were drilled.
Activity that started in the 1950s increased in density and rate starting in 2000.
The scientists, two former federal Environmental Protection Agency experts and a hydrologist specializing in wells and pollution, spoke for almost three hours in an update of the decade-long, contentious investigation into Pavillion groundwater contamination and the tainting of domestic water wells.
They included some of the latest information provided by the DEQ to residents and conclusions expected to be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
The three sought to answer whether hydraulic fracturing, the disposal of petrochemicals in unlined reserve pits and the inadequate construction of gas wells polluted the 3,000-foot-thick Wind River Formation aquifer and/or individual domestic water wells.
The effects of the pollution continue to dog the community.
Their artesian well flows clean, supporting 240 head of cattle, 45 horses and seven people.
That’s done using steel casing or cement.
So instead of extending 1,000 feet deep, casing might extend only 100 or a few hundred feet, he said.