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Scientist: Wyoming Methane Seeps and Money Leaks

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 By Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Contact
May 7, 2007


A scientist who consults the petroleum industry has taken a look at the methane seeps along the Atlantic Rim in Wyoming's Red Desert, and he says they're the biggest he's ever seen. Geochemist Walt Merschat says it means the state is losing thousands of dollars a day. He notes methane is also a global warming gas that should be controlled, if possible, and there are explosion risks if folks don't know where the methane is seeping out.

“I don't know how much, but it's a huge amount that's coming out of the ground there, I mean it's just huge. It could fill up a building to explosive levels pretty damn quick with that methane venting there.”

Merschat points out that methane can leak out of the ground naturally, but there's evidence the methane leaking to the surface along the Rim is a result of exploratory well drilling nearby. He says the rate of development should be slowed down, and waste water from drilling should be put back into the ground to keep the methane from leaking.

Merschat says methane is a colorless, odorless gas that is highly explosive. He believes more testing should be done to locate seeps and warning signs should be posted since it's a popular hunting and camping area.

“If you camped over a methane seep, and you filled your tent up with it, you might find yourself up in a tree.”

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