Thursday, July 1, 2010

28 Cows Quarantined for Exposure to Frack Waste

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture quarantined 28 cows on a Tioga County farm after they came into contact  with drilling wastewater from a nearby natural gas operation. The cows were out to pasture when a holding pond that was collecting frack flowback leaked. The leaky frack pit is on a well pad being drilled by East Resources Inc.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said uncertainty over the quantity of wastewater the cattle may have consumed warranted the quarantine in order to protect the public from eating potentially contaminated beef.

“Cattle are drawn to the taste of salty water,” Redding said. “Drilling wastewater has high salinity levels, but it also contains dangerous chemicals and metals.  We took this precaution in order to protect the public from consuming any of this potentially contaminated product should it be marketed for human consumption.”

The frack leak killed grass in a 30- x 40-foot area where the wastewater had pooled, and the wet area extended about 200-300 feet into the pasture. The cattle had potential access to the pool for three days or more before the gas company fenced off the area.

Tests of the wastewater showed that chloride, iron, sulfate, barium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, strontium and calcium were present. The main element of concern, according to Redding, is the heavy metal strontium - it can be toxic to humans, especially growing children. Strontium takes a long time to pass through an animal’s system because it is preferentially deposited in bone and released in the body at varying rates. 
Read the entire press release here.


  1. So if cows get quarantined, will whitetailed deer? Will hunter harvested venison carcasses have to be tested? Will this end the venison donation program? I've asked these questions to DEC way back in January. I have yet to receive a response.

  2. Not to mention that leaked water doesn't just sit on the surface of the ground. It seems into groundwater, well water, and runs off into creeks. Do these people really think these collection pools are safe? When it rains hard, they over flow. No one is monitoring it. And I have met guys who worked down there who quit because of what they saw happening with these pits. And these aren't hippy-dippy tree hugger guys, they are sportsmen who hunt and fish and eat what they catch. This is really the end of the world in my opinion. I am sick to death about all of it and I am considering moving to a different country that doesn't allow fracking.