Radioactive Marcellus Shale Results in Radioactive Produced Water

by Duane Nichols on December 27, 2015

Impoundments Create Public Risks

Environmentalists Call for New Study of Fracking Radiation

From an Article by Andrea Sears, Public News Service PA, December 24, 2015

Radium 226 found in fracking waste has a half-life of 1,600 years. (Delaware Riverkeeper Network)

Bristol, PA – Environmentalists say a state study of radiation in waste from gas drilling is inaccurate and incomplete. The PA Department of Environmental Protection study found little cause for concern about radioactive materials in waste from drilling operations.

But Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, says scientists have known for years, compared with other shale formations, Marcellus shale has high levels of radiation.

“The various scientific reports point out that when the Marcellus shale is fracked, that radioactivity, which is naturally occurring in those deep formations, comes back up to the surface,” says Carluccio.

The Network has published its own report, criticizing the PA-DEP study for inaccurate or incomplete sampling of rock cuttings and waste water, and failing to take action when radiation was detected. A lobbying organization for the gas drilling industry has dismissed the criticisms as “baseless.”

But according to Carluccio, the samples tested by the company hired to do the PA-DEP study may not reflect the true amounts of radiation present in the waste materials. ”For instance, where you have drill cuttings buried at well sites they basically took samples from the surface they did not do push probes,” says Carluccio.

Push probes, she says, would better sample radiation in the drill cuttings themselves and in the surrounding soil.

Carluccio says trucks carrying drilling waste to landfills sometimes set off radiation detectors and though the PA-DEP report said radiation levels in water that accumulates at these sites was too low to pose a health risk, Carluccio points out the amount of waste being buried at those sites continues to grow. “If radium 226 is ending up in the leachate at these landfills, then it’s ending up in our environment and it could even enter our drinking-water sources,” she says.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network says the PA-DEP study is so flawed that the agency needs to start over and conduct a whole new study.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bob Schmetzer December 28, 2015 at 10:08 am

I spoke to the PaDEP personnel who was doing the study at the time. Most important statement they made was they were doing the study for Industry.

I brought up the dangers of Depleted uranium from the Halliburton Perf Gun. They were not going to check for that, and never heard of it. I referred them to Vernon Swanson’s US Geological Survey of the Black Shale’s in America.

The Government was looking for a good source of uranium for military and industrial use. They never saw those either. I referred them to the New York Times Series on the Radiation from the PA wells and Benzene, they never saw them either.

Politics runs the PaDEP, not Science as told by them. They are job scared, underfunded and undermanned by the Pa State Legislature deliberately. It would be a good thing if all of the Environmental lawyers got together and challenged this.


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