EPA to study coalbed well pollution incidents

The EPA is calling for information on incidents of groundwater contamination possibly due to hydraulic fracturing of coalbed methane wells.

July 27, 2001 — As part of its study of the potential water quality impacts of an oil and gas industry practice, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is calling for information on incidents of groundwater contamination possibly due to hydraulic fracturing of coalbed methane wells.

Hydraulic fracturing is a procedure used in oil and gas production, in which a fracture is created to increase the rate of flow to oil or gas production wells. In 1998, state oil and gas agencies reported through a Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) survey that hydraulic fracturing had not caused contamination of underground sources of drinking water.

As a follow-up to the GWPC survey, EPA is issuing this call for information in order to find whether other agencies, such as local drinking water suppliers and public health departments, may know of incidents of which state oil and gas agencies are unaware.

The call for information will be published next week, and will extend for 30 days. For information on EPA's hydraulic fracturing study, go to http://www.epa.gov/safewater/uic/cbmstudy.html.

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