Pavillion water woes continue
The two likely sources of pollution — contamination that includes methane gas and other petrochemicals — have affected the Wind River Formation drinking aquifer to the point it’s unlikely to ever be cleaned up, one scientist said.
The tainted water affects homes and ranches in the 12-square-mile Pavilion gas field, where about 169 gas wells were drilled.
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.
“I think that helps explain a lot why we see so much methane in people’s water–supply wells.” Gas drilling has been going on in the Pavillion area since the 1950s Spencer said.
Gas from those zones, and even from the deeper, targeted production zone, can move up the bore hole “then moves laterally out into that upper 1,000 feet of the Wind River [Formation],” he said.
That’s about 80 wells, 90 wells.
“The state has to make sure these wells are constructed in a manner that safeguards the water and I don’t believe that has happened,” Wireman said.
Unlined disposal pits definitely polluted groundwater and data suggests they also affected domestic water wells, he said.
DiGiulio believes fracking impacted groundwater below 1,000 feet, DiGiulio said.
The probe is to use shallow monitoring wells to calculate what might have spread from some of the unlined pits to nearby domestic water wells.