Oh look, highly radioactive water from fracking!


See, this is why I love Gov. Corbett! Isn’t this great news?

In the state of Pennsylvania, home to the lucrative Marcellus Shale formation, 74 facilities treat wastewater from the process of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”) for natural gas and release it into streams. There’s no national set of standards that guides this treatment process—the EPA notes that the Clean Water Act’s guidelines were developed before fracking even existed, and that many of the processing plants “are not properly equipped to treat this type of wastewater”—and scientists have conducted relatively little assessment of the wastewater to ensure it’s safe after being treated.

Recently, a group of Duke University scientists decided to do some testing. They contacted the owners of one treatment plant, the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility on Blacklick Creek in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, but, “when we tried to work with them, it was very difficult getting ahold of the right person,” says Avner Vengosh, an Earth scientist from Duke. “Eventually, we just went and tested water right from a public area downstream.”

Their analyses, made on water samples collected repeatedly over the course of two years, were even more concerning than we’d feared. As published today in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, they found high concentrations of of the element radium, a highly radioactive substance. The concentrations were roughly 200 times higher than background levels. In addition, amounts of chloride and bromide in the water were two to ten times greater than normal.

“Even if, today, you completely stopped disposal of the wastewater,” Vengosh says, there’s enough contamination built up that”you’d still end up with a place that the U.S. would consider a radioactive waste site.”

5 thoughts on “Oh look, highly radioactive water from fracking!

  1. What’s a little radiation? Just ask Fuckushima. Who needs that nasty ole EPA anyway. What’s a few thousand tumors or a few hundred deaths, there’s money to be made.

  2. Well, this confirms what I heard, probably on NYC’s WBAI Pacifica station last week.

    I’d meant to google it and, alas, forgot (how could ever happen?), but, thanks to Susie, here is the study.

    The person discussing the radon in water mentioned fracking, but I’d come into the program a bit late and missed it was from the waste water. Of course, I shoulda figured that out.

    This is very seriously bad, bad, bad, bad shit. Destruction of our fresh potable water? Whodathunkit!! But those making the profits figure they’re far enough away to have safe water, right? Captialist terrorists.

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