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,”
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.” Redding
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.