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Benzene on the Rocks? Private WYO Wells Contaminated by Gas Drilling

October 2, 2007

Clark, WY – For those who live near the site of a gas well blowout in the Clark area last year, the local water may not be safe to drink, or cook with, or bathe in. Residents are meeting tonight to discuss how an underground plume of contamination from the blowout has affected them. Testing shows dangerous levels of the toxin benzene have contaminated at least one private well.

Deb Thomas, of the Clark Resource Council, wonders why even more wells have recently been cleared to be drilled in the area…

"These wells have been permitted in what is clearly a sensitive area. They're in close proximity to the creek, and to private wells and homes."

Benzene is a colorless liquid and a documented carcinogen. Thomas says the drilling company responsible for the contamination has promised to pay for the cleanup, but she feels health monitoring is necessary for all who live nearby, because when the well blew, all kinds of chemicals were released into the air.

"What kind of health hazards are the people exposed to in this drainage? The actual blowout was never addressed. We were actually breathing that contamination when it blew."

The public meeting takes place tonight at 7:00 PM, at the Clark Pioneer Recreation Center.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WY