Last year the EPA published a study that essentially cleared the oil and gas industry, and particularly the practice of “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking,” of any responsibility for the contamination of underground water systems.

But the findings used language that was hardly definitive. The report said there is no evidence of “widespread, systemic” impacts on wells and water systems. Fracking involves pumping water and various chemicals into the rock strata to crack the deepest rocks and free up hidden deposits of oil and gas.

Now a new scientific study calls that report into question, and points out that an impact doesn’t have to be widespread and systemic to be significant.

The Science Advisory Board was created by Congress in 1978. Their job is to advise the EPA administrator, and the group includes many experts, including geologists and engineers.

At a teleconference this week, the panel said the wording of the EPA report was too vague to frankly be of any use in determining risk. And they cited instances of failed wells and contaminated water in Dimock, Pennsylvania, Parker County, Texas, and Pavillion, Wyoming.

The oil and gas industry defends fracking, which has been around since the late 1940’s, but was never used so extensively as in the last few years.

But the panel said the EPA report needs to be revisited, and more research done.

The EPA is not required to follow the recommendations, but said this week, they will review the research and the report.