Taxpayers To Fund System To Remove Radiation In Water After Feds Fracking Cover Up Exposed
The Feds will allow Natural Gas drillers to continue dumping radioactive water into water supplies as taxpayers fund a new system to remove radiation from the water.
After a government cover up of radioactive contamination being dumped into water supplies was exposed the feds are now sending citizens the bill to clean up the mess.
To make matters worse, the federal government will allow natural gas drillers to continue to dump high levels of radioactive waste into the environment while the system is developed to remove the radioactive contaminants from the water.
A report on Forbes today reveals that U.S taxpayers will pay $1.4 million to subsidize the development of the $2 million system which will be used to remove the radioactive Radium-226 from the water.
Fracking Radiation Targeted By DOE, GE
The Department of Energy and General Electric will spend $2 million over the next two years to remove naturally occurring radioactive materials from the fracking fluids produced by America’s booming shale-gas industry.
The New York State Department of Health has identified Radium-226 as a radionuclide of particular concern in the Marcellus Shale formation deep beneath the Appalachian Mountains.
In hydraulic fracturing operations, drillers force water and a mixture of chemicals into wells to shatter the shale and free natural gas.
The brine that returns to the surface has been found to contain up to 16,000 picoCuries per liter of radium-226 (pdf). The discharge limit in effluent for Radium 226 is 60 pCi/L, and the EPA’s drinking water standard is 5 pCi/L.
Uranium and Radon-222 have also been found in water returning to the surface from deep shale wells.
A New York Times report drew attention to the radioactive contamination in the water earlier this year after studying internal EPA documents which revealed the feds knew that fracking process used by natural gas drillers was polluting the drinking water.
Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers
But the relatively new drilling method — known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking — carries significant environmental risks. It involves injecting huge amounts of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, at high pressures to break up rock formations and release the gas.
With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.
While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.
The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.
Other documents and interviews show that many E.P.A. scientists are alarmed, warning that the drilling waste is a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania. Their concern is based partly on a 2009 study, never made public, written by an E.P.A. consultant who concluded that some sewage treatment plants were incapable of removing certain drilling waste contaminants and were probably violating the law.
The Times also found never-reported studies by the E.P.A. and a confidential study by the drilling industry that all concluded that radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.
But the E.P.A. has not intervened. In fact, federal and state regulators are allowing most sewage treatment plants that accept drilling waste not to test for radioactivity. And most drinking-water intake plants downstream from those sewage treatment plants in Pennsylvania, with the blessing of regulators, have not tested for radioactivity since before before 2006, even though the drilling boom began in 2008.
In other words, there is no way of guaranteeing that the drinking water taken in by all these plants is safe.
Source: The New York Times
A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report reveals that despite tests showing high levels of radiation in the water, the feds and state regulators are still allowing radioactive waste to be dumped into the water without testing the levels of radioactivity.
Radiation in fracking fluid is a new concern
Wastewater from Marcellus Shale drilling may contain unhealthy concentrations of radioactivity, and federal officials, researchers, the industry and the former head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection have called for testing of drinking water sources and full disclosure of results.
The New York Times reported in a story Saturday that 116 of 179 Marcellus wells in Pennsylvania had high levels of radiation in wastewater samples and that wastewater discharges into rivers and streams were untested for radiation even though government agencies and the industry knew of the risks. The radiation is picked up by water used to hydraulically fracture the deep, 380 million-year-old shale layer and release the natural gas it holds.
In response to the Times article, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., wrote a letter Saturday to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson asking for responses to various issues regarding toxic wastewater from fracking.
“I do not believe that the price for energy extracted from deep beneath the earth’s surface should include a risk to the health of those who live above it,” Mr. Markey wrote. “I am outraged that state and federal regulators were evidently well aware of the risks that the wastewater might pose, but instead chose to adopt a ‘see no evil, hear no evil approach’ to regulation by ignoring them.”
According to a June 2010 article in the online journal Environmental Science & Technology, by David Kargbo, Ron Wilhelm and David Campbell, all of the EPA’s Region III office in Philadelphia, the Marcellus Shale is considered to contain “elevated levels” of naturally occurring radioactive materials.
They cite a recent study of 13 Marcellus fracking wastewater samples by the New York Department of Conservation that found levels of radium-226 as high as 267 times the safe disposal limit and thousands of times higher than the safe drinking water limit. Another study by the New York Department of Health found elevated radium-226 levels in samples of drilling “brine,” a salty drilling wastewater.
A November 2010 study of fracking’s effect on radioactive material in the Marcellus Shale by Tracy Bank, a geologist at the State University of New York in Buffalo, found that the process that released the gas also releases uranium trapped in the shale. She said additional study is needed to understand and predict the reaction in the shale to fracking.
“We found that some of the metals in the shale can react to the fracking fluids and become mobile, including uranium, chromium and zinc, which can come back to the surface with the fluids,” Ms. Bank said. “It’s totally treatable and all the chemically contaminated waste water needs to be treated. It definitely can’t be disposed of in streams without treatment. That might result in a fish kill.”
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette