Monday, March 7, 2011

Radioactive Water Safe, says PA DEP

The recent NY Times series on fracking got everyone’s attention. This morning the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that river water downstream of Marcellus water treatment plants is “safe” – at least according to results from in-stream water quality monitoring for radioactive material in seven rivers.

“All samples showed levels at or below the normal naturally occurring background levels of radioactivity,” Southwest Regional Office spokesperson Katy Gresh wrote in the press release.

The tests were conducted in November and December of 2010 at stations downstream of wastewater treatment plants that accept flowback and production water from Marcellus Shale drilling.

“We deal in facts based on sound science,” said DEP acting Secretary Michael Krancer. “Here are the facts: all samples were at or below background levels of radioactivity; and all samples showed levels below the federal drinking water standard for Radium 226 and 228.”

The press release did not list the test results and gave not links to documents. Nor did DEP compare how the levels they tested compare to federal drinking water standards. Krancer did say, however, that the sampling stations were installed last fall specifically to monitor stream quality for potential impacts of Marcellus development.

Krancer explained that the water tested is the raw water in the river before it enters public water suppliers’ intakes where the water receives further treatment. The following rivers were tested:

  • Monongahela at Charleroi in Washington County
  • South Fork Ten Mile Creek in Greene County
  • Conemaugh in Indiana County
  • Allegheny at Kennerdell in Venango County
  • Beaver in Beaver County
  • Tioga in Tioga County
  • West Branch of the Susquehanna in Lycoming County

You may read the DEP release here.

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