Fracking Impacts - Radioactive Contamination

Radioactive materials such as radium and uranium from shale and coal formations brought to the surface in the billions of gallons by fracking, is proving one of its most intractable issues, threatening to pollute drinking water supplies from Pennsylvania to New South Wales, with spills, leaks, and dumping contaminating waterways and aquifers, and solid radioactive waste piling up in landfills, while workers transporting frack waste are getting sick and radon levels are climbing in homes near fracking sites

Hot Sludge: Problems With Recycling Frack Waste (Public News Service, April 2016) Recycling of fracking waste can reduce water use, but only by creating low-level nuclear waste too hot for landfills, as uranium and radium is concentrated in the remaining sludge, leaving a radioactive legacy that could last for thousands of years

Low-level radioactive waste illegally dumped in Estill landfill, state official says (Lexington Herald-Leader, February 2016) An estimated 1,600 to 1,800 tons of low-level radioactive waste, generated by oil and gas-drilling activities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, was illegally dumped in a Kentucky landfill, and now state officials are warning other solid-waste operators not to accept any of the material

Western State Regulators Struggling to Keep up with Radioactive Fracking and Drilling Waste: New Report (DeSmogBlog, November 2015) The handling of toxic waste from fracking activities is one of its most intractable issues, not only because of the sheer volume of waste generated (roughly 21 billion barrels in the US alone), but also because some of the radioactive materials involved have a half-life of over 1,500 years, making the impacts especially long-lasting

Radioactivity Found in Pennsylvania Creek, Illegal Fracking Waste Dumping Suspected (Alternet, August 2015) Recently released water test results in western Pennsylvania, upstream from Pittsburgh, reveal evidence of radioactive contamination in water flowing from an abandoned mine which experts say may have come from illegal dumping of shale fracking wastewater

Radiation found in Greene County stream near water supply (WTAE, July 2015) High levels of radiation caused by contamination with radium 226 and radium 228 – up to 60 times higher than the maximum allowed in drinking water – have been found in a stream that flows into the Monongahela River, whose water eventually ends up in Pittsburgh

Study raises questions about measuring radioactivity in fracking wastewater (Science, April 2015) Commonly used testing methods may underestimate the total radioactivity of wastewater produced by gas wells that use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to tap the Marcellus Shale, a geological formation in the northeastern United States, concludes a new study

Rise of deadly radon gas in Pennsylvania buildings linked to fracking industry (Washington Post, April 2015) A new study reports a disturbing correlation between unusually high levels of radon, a colorless, odorless gas that is radioactive and has been linked to lung cancer, mostly in residences and an oil and gas production technique known as fracking

Rising Levels of Toxic Gas Found in Homes Near Fracking Sites (NBC News, April 2015) Levels of radon, a cancer-causing, radioactive gas, the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., killing an estimated 21,000 people a year, have been rising measurably in Pennsylvania since the controversial practice of fracking started there, researchers report

Duke Study: Fracking Is Leaving Radioactive Pollution In Pennsylvania Rivers (Business Insider, January 2015) Geochemists have found dangerous levels of radioactivity, Radium levels 200 times greater than control water from the area, and salinity at a fracking disposal site near Blacklick Creek, which feeds into water sources for Pittsburgh and other western Pennsylvania cities

Dilemma in the Marcellus Shale: How to dispose of radioactive oil and gas waste? (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 2014) In the first half of 2014, 421 trucks carrying oil and gas waste tripped radiation alarms at Pennsylvania landfills, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection, but all but two of those trucks eventually dumped their waste at those landfills, which contain uranium, radium, thorium, strontium and barium dredged up from deep underground

Michigan Is Taking The Radioactive Fracking Waste That Other States Rejected (Think Progress, August 2014) Up to 36 tons of low-level radioactive waste from fracking operations in Pennsylvania were scheduled to arrive in Michigan last week, waste already rejected by landfills in Pennsylvania due to its radiation content, with long term exposure at these levels resulting in changes in blood chemistry, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, hair loss, diarrhea and bleeding

How Fracking Is Exposing People to Radioactive Waste (AlterNet, May 2014) Millions of gallons of fracking waste can end up simply left in pits to either evaporate or sink back into the ground, or sent to water treatment plants and eventually released back into rivers and streams, while some is spilled or illegally dumped, with the greatest threat being the bioaccumulation of radium, with potential to contaminate drinking water or enter the food chain through fish or farming

Radioactive Waste Booms With Fracking as New Rules Mulled (Bloomberg, April 2014) Oilfields, like the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, are spinning off thousands of tons of low-level radioactive trash as the U.S. drilling boom leads to a surge in illegal dumping with some waste ending up in roadside ditches, garbage dumpsters or is taken to landfills in violation of local rules, as shale often containing higher levels of radioactive radium than traditional oil fields

Research Shows Some Test Methods Miss 99 Percent of Radium in Fracking Waste (DeSmogBlog, March 2014) The methods used to test the hundreds of billions of gallons of wastewater laced with corrosive salts, radioactive materials and many other chemicals generated by fracking every year, can understate radioactive radium levels by as much as 99 percent, according to a scientific study

Coal seam gas water leaks could be a problem for decades (The Conversation, March 2014) Recently reported leaks of water containing high levels of radioactive uranium from a coal seam gas (CSG) wastewater pond operated by Santos in New South Wales, which has infiltrated and migrated into the underlying aquifer, show waste, generated in large quantities by all CSG wells, and brought to the surface is another major environmental issue

Radiation in Pennsylvania Creek Seen as Legacy of Fracking (Bloomberg, October 2013) Radioactive radium brought to the surface by gas drillers has been detected at concentrations 200 times above background levels in a Blacklick Creek, Pennsylvania, illustrating the risks of wastewater disposal from the boom in hydraulic fracturing

Fracking Truck Sets Off Radiation Alarm At Landfill (Forbes, April 2013) A truck carrying drill cuttings from a hydraulic fracturing pad in the Marcellus Shale was rejected by a Pennsylvania landfill after it set off a radiation alarm, emitting gamma radiation from radium 226 at almost ten times the permitted level

Fracking Wastewater Can Be Highly Radioactive (Reader Supported News, January 2013) A U.S. Geological Survey report found that millions of barrels of wastewater from unconventional wells in Pennsylvania were up to 3,609 times more radioactive than the federal limit for drinking water and 300 times more radioactive than the limit for nuclear plant discharges, as the workers transporting wastewater are getting sick undiagnosed conditions

Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers (New York Times, February 2011) A fracking 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, with drilling waste a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania since radioactivity cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways

Is New York’s Marcellus Shale Too Hot to Handle? (Pro Publica, November 2009) New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has found levels of radium-226 in frack wastewater, a derivative of uranium known to cause bone, liver and breast cancers, as high as 267 times the limit safe for discharge into the environment and thousands of times the limit safe for people to drink

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