Fracking wastewater test results are radioactive


UPDATED … “The Duke team is at it again,” says Energy in Depth’s Katie Brown in response to the study.

Original post: Water downstream from an Indiana County fracking treatment plant contained high concentrations of radium, a highly radioactive substance, a study finds.

Scientists from Duke University “tested water right from a public area downstream” from the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility on Blacklick Creek.

Samples that were collected for two years show radium in concentrations “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,” notes the Surprising Science blog at Smithsonian Magazine.

“Even if, today, you completely stopped disposal of the wastewater,” says Avner Vengosh, an Earth scientist from Duke, 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.”

The study, Impacts of Shale Gas Wastewater Disposal on Water Quality in Western Pennsylvania, is published today in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Updated: “But a closer look at the study, and the facts, tells another story – a story far different from what you’ve probably already seen in the media,” says Brown of Energy In Depth, a Washington-based industry group.

Updated: The Trib’s David Conti takes an in-depth look at the Josephine treatment plant and the study here.