The Environmental Protection Agency said that hydraulic fracturing, a controversial natural gas drilling process, probably contaminated well water in Wyoming, a finding sure to roil the debate about expanding natural gas drilling around the country.
The EPA’s new draft report found dangerous amounts of benzene in a monitoring well near the town of Pavillion, in central Wyoming.
The EPA is conducting a comprehensive study about the possible effect of “fracking” on water resources, but initial results are not expected until late 2012. As a result, the Pavillion report may not give either side in the fracking debate the conclusive answers they seek.
But the EPA report is the first that uses multiple, on-the-ground samples to determine the effect of fracking on underground water sources in areas of oil and gas development.