West Virginia Officials Say Radioactivity from Gas Drilling a Non-Issue

One of the issues raised in Marcellus Shale drilling is a concern that pumping water into, and then extracting it out of the ground will bring with it radioactivity from naturally occurring sources deep underground. In particular, the “cuttings” or leftover rock and dirt that come out of the bore hole might contain higher than normal levels of radioactivity. Officials in West Virginia say there’s no reason for concern in their state:

While testing has just begun, West Virginia has so far seen safe levels of radioactivity from drilling the Marcellus Shale natural gas field, state Department of Environmental Protection officials told a House-Senate legislative committee Tuesday.

DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said the geology of West Virginia’s share of the massive rock formation a mile underground may make radiation less of a concern than in neighboring Pennsylvania, where officials have been more actively testing.*

*Charleston Gazette (May 17, 2011) – State officials call Marcellus radiation a non-issue