It seems that The New York Times’ contention that Pennsylvania is poisoning waterways with radioactivity from Marcellus Shale wastewater was fiction and not science, as is now proven by test results from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP conducted tests over the past four months at key locations where wastewater is treated and released into area waterways. Here’s what they found with respect to radioactivity:
The DEP’s water quality monitoring for radioactive materials, done over the past four months, found radiation levels at or below normal naturally occurring background levels for radium 226 and 228, and below the federal safe drinking water standard of 5 picocuries per liter. The sampling was done on raw water in the rivers and creeks at locations where public water suppliers have intakes.
The DEP tested water from the Monongahela River at Charleroi in Washington County; South Fork Tenmile Creek in Greene County; Conemaugh River bordering Westermoreland and Indiana counties; Allegheny River at Kennerdell in Venango County; Beaver River in Lawrence County; Tioga River in Tioga County, and the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Lycoming County.
According to industry documents cited by The New York Times in articles last week, radiation was found in much higher concentrations in wastewater samples at 116 of 179 deep gas wells.
John Hanger, the former DEP secretary, said he wasn’t surprised by the testing results.
“I’m pleased by it, of course, as all Pennsylvanians should be,” Mr. Hanger said. “The results demonstrate powerfully that the concerns raised by The Times articles were false and Pennsylvania runs a stringent oversight program for the gas drilling industry.”*
*Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Mar 8, 2011) – No dangerous radiation found in Pa. water