A Pavillion couple has reached a settlement with Encana Corp. over contaminated groundwater in the central Wyoming gas field where they live.
The confidential agreement marks an end to the last legal battle in the debate over whether development of the Pavillion gas field polluted the water outside of a tiny town on the Wind River Reservation.
Jeff and Rhonda Locker brought the suit against Encana in 2014, arguing that the firm polluted their water and then lied about it. The company has robustly denied the allegations.
“We’re still working to solve the problem out here,” Jeff Locker said. “Just because we got a settlement don’t mean the contamination and the issues have gone away.”
A lawyer for the family said the settlement, brokered by former governor Mike Sullivan, was encouragingly amicable. All parties were “respectful” of one another, he said.
An Encana spokesman said he could not comment on the case and directed questions regarding ongoing reclamation and water testing in the Pavillion area to state regulators. [Pfffffffffffffffffffft, energy regulators (state/provincial and federal) engage in fraud to cover-up oil company crimes and pollution, and lie, and lie, and lie, and lie, and then lie some more to make sure the contamination of drinking water by the oil and gas industry continues, unhindered, without a fix, without punishment, without justice for the many harmed. What good is talking to state regulators going to do?]
A tiny town’s big controversy
Pavillion garnered national attention after the Environmental Protection Agency published a draft report in 2011 linking contamination of shallow-depth water wells with wastewater pits.
The report also linked hydraulic fracturing to pollution of the drinking water aquifer, suggesting that well casing inadequacies and fracking had allowed contaminates from frack fluids to migrate up into the water.
Fracking was unleashing a boom of activity in the oil and gas fields in Wyoming and across the country at the time. It is a common practice today for most wells drilled in the state and has allowed companies to reach previously inaccessible oil and gas deposits.
The EPA report was ill-received in Wyoming.
Gov. Matt Mead said in an interview with the Star-Tribune at the time that the federal results were premature.
“We need to be led by sound science, and whatever that may be, we will accept [but only if created by and paid for by the polluter (Encana)],” Mead told the Star-Tribune in 2012. [The real peer-reviewed, published science in the Pavillion Pollution case proves it to be Encana, and the EPA published in their 2016 final frac report that the aquifers at Pavillion, Wyoming and Rosebud, Alberta were directly fractured by Encana, contaminating them.]
A public records request by the Star Tribune returned 56,000 documents including evidence of political pressure on the EPA to step aside. The agency never published its final report. [But it did publish it’s final 2016 frac report, including Pavillion Wyoming in it]
[Encana paid for, controlled and with enabling] Wyoming regulators took over the EPA’s investigation in 2013, narrowing its scope. The state said its approach, which included less field study, was more systematic.
Encana donated $1 million to provide water cisterns to impacted residents and fund the state study.
Encana cleverly just funded the study so as to control its outcome claiming the polluter innocent:
While the state is in talks with Encana to help subsidize the cost of transporting the water to effected residents, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality Public Information Officer Keith Guille said they haven’t voiced a commitment yet. Mead previously said subsidizing the water transportation may be seen as an admission of guilt from Encana….]
A final report [funded and controlled by Encana] from state regulators published in 2016 disputed the EPA’s findings. It said that without baseline water testing prior to oil and gas activities, contaminants found in well water could not be directly linked to industry. It criticized some of the practices by EPA used in its determination, like the materials used in EPA’s own monitoring wells.
The unpalatable drinking water outside the town of Pavillion may be a result of existing contaminants and naturally occurring substances, according to the state.
The former lead investigator of the EPA study in Pavillion, Dominic DiGiulio, published an independent report in collaboration with Stanford University doubling down on EPA’s conclusions that oil and gas operations polluted the aquifer. [And, more importantly that Encana fractured into the aquifer]
Moving forward in Pavillion
Local landowners, and the landowner advocacy group Powder River Basin Resource Council, believe the Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation was sound [The US Geological Survey affirmed the EPA’s investigation and results, reference listed below] and the state’s determination inadequate.
They continue to push for remediation in the area as Encana and regulators proceed with plugging wells. The Resource Council and the Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens recently noted corroded casing and high pressure in the wells being plugged in letters to the Bureau of Land Management and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
“We’re happy if the Lockers reached a settlement that makes them whole,” said Jill Morrison of the PRBRC. “But the state still has obligations. Encana still has obligations, and we are working on those.”
Morrison said residents are aware of slime in their water that landowner-hired experts say is feeding off of methane gas. [Also in drinking water in Alberta contaminated with industry’s leaking and or frac’d methane (and other gas) that polluters like Encana, and their enablers like AER; Alberta Environment and politicians; Wyoming state and regulator; Alberta Research Council and its “independent” but secretly edited expert, Dr. Alexander Blyth; Encana’s fav expert Dr. Anthony Gorody; etc blame on nature and or the harmed for being dirty]
A series of new water quality tests carried out by the Department of Environmental Quality last year should be available in late February, a spokesman for the department said Wednesday. [IS THAT WHY ENCANA SETTLED or because a court date had been set?]
Wyoming regulators from the Department of Environmental Quality and the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission continue to work in the Pavillion area.
The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has never fined Encana for the issues found in investigating Pavillion’s water contamination.
A spokesman for the commission said the company did not violate state rules. [And if Encana had violated the rules the way the company did in Alberta, the regulator would be saying the same thing]
“Well integrity and cementing issues are usually a result of older wells that were drilled and completed using the best practices at the time and in accordance with our rules at the time, said Kimberly Mazza in an email. “These issues, if they occur, can be remediated.”
[Remediation Reality Check:
Slide compiled from Ernst research and speaking events.
What do oil companies least like to do?
End remediation reality check]
The commission changed its water testing rules in 2015. It now requires companies to do water sampling before and after oil and gas operations.
Locker said the baseline water testing was one step forward for the state, and that he hoped Wyoming had learned from what happened to Pavillion.
[Did part of the settlement include Lockers shilling for the pollution-enabling State of Wyoming? Why else are they “talking” to the media after gagging with Encana? Why speak such synergized foolishness?
Baseline water testing, even when it proves an oil company polluted aquifers, is useless in fixing frac’d aquifers and or getting polluters or regulators to do the right thing and admit to their crimes and make families “whole.”
When there is baseline water testing proving the contamination is industry’s, the regulators change the historic data to let the polluters get away with it, and hang the harmed families and aquifers out to dry.
Ernst and others in Alberta with drinking water contaminated by Encana’s law violations and hydraulic fracturing have baseline and or historic water well tests or both showing no gases present before Encana broke the law and contaminated the aquifers supplying those water wells. Instead of heeding the pre-frac tests, even those completed by Encana, Encana, regulators and “experts” just make up whatever they want about the historic and baseline records and say there was always gas present. Expert Dr. Alexander Blyth even fabricated historic records in official reports that the research agency he worked for refused to disclose after being ordered to in official judicial inquiry.
After numerous Albertans with historic water well tests showing no gas present before frac’ing publicly spoke up about their gas contaminated drinking water after nearby frac’ing, the Alberta government removed all the historic records that say Gas Present: No and replaced them with completely new made up “history” records that are now blank for gas present or not.
To seal the cover-up and fraud in an icy tomb, Supreme Court of Canada Justice Rosalie Abella ignored the facts and made shit up (lied) in her ruling about Ernst vs Alberta Energy Regulator. Abella’s changing the fact that AER ruled Ernst a terrorist without any evidence into AER ruling her a vexatious litigant was enabled by all of the rest of the judges on Canada’s top court by knowingly publishing the lie and repeating the lie in the ruling summary sent by the court to the media to defame Ernst and her lawsuit. Who believes a “vexatious litigant?”
If frac-harmed citizens with baseline water testing data collected by Encana and historic baseline water records on file with the water regulator can’t even get top judges in the country to respect historic facts and documented evidence, how can anyone anywhere get regulators and companies to respect historic and baseline water well records?]
Wyoming needs to be “forward thinking” in regard to its regulations, he said, noting landowner water concerns in Laramie County where companies have recently applied for water injection wells.
“Hopefully, the state will dig in the heels and say, ‘We are going to look out for our citizens. We don’t want this to happen.’” [Emphasis added]
Wyoming News Update, PAVILLION-GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION by The Associated Press, January 25, 2018, Sheridan Media
RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming couple has filed notice that they have reached a settlement in their lawsuit against Encana Oil & Gas over potentially tainted groundwater.
Pavillion-area couple Jeff and Rhonda Locker filed the notice Monday in a federal lawsuit that began in 2014.
The Ranger reports that the Lockers had accused Encana of contaminating their water and then conspiring to cover up the pollution.
Encana had denied the accusations.
No terms of the settlement have been revealed, and the parties are required for file a dismissal pleading by Feb. 21.
Pavillion Water Controversy: Pavillion Residents Set for Trial with Encana Over Water Contamination by Raven Ford, Dec 12, 2017, KCWY13
The Pavilion water controversy might be resolved soon in Fremont County.
Some property owners said it’s been nearly 20 years since Pavillion’s water was contaminated.
They said it was due to Encana Oil and Gas Company and their operations.
Jeff Locker, a Pavillion landowner told News 13, “What started the whole thing was they were working right behind the house I don’t know if they pressured it up or what not.”
Locker added his wife was doing chores around the house when they noticed their water turned completely black with an unpleasant smell.
Compare to Ronalie and Shawn Campbells’ water – nice and black – being tested after Encana frac’d around and under their land:
“That’s catastrophic and it can happen naturally if you have an earthquake or an atomic bomb or something like that but this had to do with what they had to do back behind our house.”
Although it happened years ago, Locker’s son said he still recalls the day.
“I still remember when it happens like my daddy. Just turned black and I could taste the chemicals in the water, I’ve worked oil and gas 10 years of my life what happened was not natural in my opinion,” said Eric Locker.
Unsure of the cause the family used a filter that seemed like the answer at the time.
However, Locker’s wife became sick shortly after.
“My wife has suffered some long-term health issues mostly neuropathy some cognitive stuff and she’s not getting better with nerve damage does not heal itself,” shared Locker.
Encana researchers have tested the water, but not much has changed for Pavillion residents.
“So far nothing has been done to fix it. They’ve deemed the water unsafe even for animal consumption so without the cisterns nobody could live here.”
Encana spokesman, Doug Hock was unable to go on camera but released a statement stating:
“Encana is committed to completing work on historic pits and they will follow the proper pit closure requirements”. [Why not admit Encana’s inhumane drilling engineers and contractors fractured aquifers at Pavillion and Rosebud Alberta, and is committed to no longer fracturing community drinking water supplies, and is committed to fixing all aquifers the company frac’d in USA and Canada?]
Locker concluded he just wants the company to take liability.
“We just want to hold them accountable for what they’ve done to my wife and I and our family our neighbors. We’ve been living with this for close to 20 years and finally hopefully maybe we can get some resolution to this.”
That resolution might come soon. The Locker’s case against Encana is set for trial in 2018. [Amazing! Compare the American and Canadian legal systems. After only a few years of process, Lockers get a trial date. Ernst’s lawsuit is in its eleventh year, going nowhere but bankrupt with Encana continuing to refuse to release records material and relevant to the lawsuit (December 19, 2014 deadline for filing ordered by Justice Wittmann; in Alberta, trade secrets are not allowed in lawsuits) and currently in Alberta, a civil plaintiff must wait 3 years to get a trial date. Rape and pillage colony for multinationals and the rich]
Over 30 Pavillion residents, including Locker rely on cistern tanks for their water source. [Emphasis added]
Refer also to:
2017 11 02: Ernst’s 185 gallon water hauling tank (she purchased herself), Rosebud, Alberta.
Ernst drives 45 minutes one way, to get potable water from the Red Deer River that Plains Midstream fouled with a serious sour crude oil spill six years ago. Ernst stores the hauled water in cisterns in her basement (giving up her laundry and storage room), rationing it for household use. The water leaves oily black rings in the cisterns. After the Plains Midstream spill, Ernst separately hauls bottled water for cooking & drinking.
Slides from Ernst speaking events
2017 06 16: Family’s lawsuit against aquifer fracker Encana gets boost from federal judge, Lockers have right to introduce evidence backing up claim of bias due to Encana’s funding of State’s investigation
2017 01 04: Federal Judge: Lockers’ Pavillion water contamination case against Encana can go to trial. Jeff and Rhonda Locker: “They’ve dragged us through the mud long enough. I’ve got the fight on now”
2016 03 31: No Canadian Mainsteam Media Reported on Standford Peer-Reviewed Study Proving Encana Frac’d, Contaminated Aquifers at Pavillion, Wyoming. In Germany, Mainstream Magazine, Der Spiegel, Did! How Corrupt Did Harper Frack Canada?
2016 03 30: Why did no Canadian media or blogs, other than The Tyee, report on Digiulio & Jackson’s damning new study confirming Encana frac’d & contaminated drinking water aquifers at Pavillion, Wyoming?
2016 03 29; How creative will frac fraud get? Wyoming regulator hires Canadian frac patent holder Maurice Dusseault (why?), Blames nature, Copy cats Alberta regulators, gov’t, Research Council (now Alberta Innovates), Ignores red flag indicators of petroleum industry contamination, Ignores that Encana frac’d drinking water aquifers like Encana did at Rosebud
2016 03 29: The Bie Lie Unravels: Scientists Digiulio & Jackson Slam EPA For “Walking Away” From Pavillion Frac Pollution Study in 2011 (Alberta regulators, gov’t walked from Rosebud frac pollution in 2008, never enforced Encana’s 2004 law violations), Encana’s fracking contaminated underground water reservoirs in Wyoming, finds study by former EPA scientist who led preliminary investigation. EPA never followed up
2016 03 29: New peer-reviewed published paper by Digiulio & Jackson, Pavillion Wyoming aquifers contaminated by fracking: Only one industry is allowed to inject toxic chemicals into underground sources of drinking water – hydraulic fracturing
2015 05 08: Pavilion Frac Contamination of Drinking Water Lawsuit: Jeff and Rhonda Locker and Encana agree to delay designating and hearing from experts until state releases report on pollution testing of water wells
2014 08 28: CAPP (Canada’s big oil and gas lying lobby group) Confesses CBM frac’ing in Alberta contaminated drinking water, making it flammable, in full page ad taken out by CAPP in the Calgary Herald. Alex Ferguson was Commissioner and CEO of British Columbia’s energy regulator, the BC Oil and Gas Commission, 2007-2011
2014 07 12: Pavillion citizens with contaminated groundwater file state records request for draft investigation reports, object that Encana can review them and make comments, but harmed citizens and the public can’t
2013 12 19: Farmer Jeff Locker and his wife considering suing Encana Corp, preferring judge and jury over Wyoming state and regulator officials; three state reports on Encana and water contamination delayed to 2014
2012 07 10: Pavillion cisterns a go Who wants to live with stale water in cisterns and having to rely on very expensive and unsavory hauled water? Fix the damn damage you’ve done Encana! Do your damn jobs regulators and courts, honestly, appropriately, quickly and integrally.
2010 06: Ernst discovers that the Alberta water regulator removed the 1986 historic water well record filed with the regulator for her well and others with gas contaminated water after nearby fracturing, and replaced it with altered records that had the statement “Gas Present: No” removed.
2006: Ernst’s contaminated flammable water after Encana illegally fractured the aquifers that supply Ernst’s water well, and the other wells in the community. Photographed by Colin Smith for oil patch/NeoNazi shill Ezra Levant‘s Western Standard (the magazine did not publish the photo – too inflammatory for oil patch controlled Ezra? Coward):
2005 Hydrogeological Report by HCL for Encana documented that the company had broken the law in 2004. The report was sent by Encana to regulators who did nothing with the information but cover-up the crimes and abuse impacted water well owners trying to silence them.
2004: Encana secretly fractures Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers, diagram from the above report, Encana did not share the report with affected Rosebud residents living in explosive risk:
2003: Encana filed with Alberta’s Groundwater Centre (data shared site with the water regulator) that the company intended to frac Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers. As can been seen in the above diagram, Encana’s gas well is up on the valley top; affected drinking water wells down in the Rosebud River Valley. The elevation change puts Encana’s frac’s directly into the community’s fresh water aquifers:
Text in bottom right hand corner:
2003: Baseline water well testing done by Encana on the Ernst water well, before the company illegally fractured the aquifers that supply her well, states “Water appearance: Clear” (after Encana’s frac’ing the water pours white because there is so much methane and ethane in it) and does not report any gases in the water.
The 2003 tests by Encana compared to regulator tests after Encana frac’d the aquifers show the chromium in Ernst’s water increased by a factor of 45. The regulators never mentioned this, and the expert that reviewed the Ernst data reported the chromium at a concentration 1000 times less than on the lab sheets included in his report.
What good are baseline tests or historic records on water wells?
1986: Snap taken from Ernst’s historic water well record: