DEP: Rivers, Streams Not Radioactive

By Andy Sheehan, KDKA Investigator

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Monongahela River is the source of drinking water for some 800,000 local people, so speculation raised by a New York Times article last week that it might be radioactively contaminated had been cause for alarm.

Monday, Katy Gresh of the state Department of Environmental Protection said testing had put those fears to rest.

“The results speak for themselves. We deal in facts and sound science here at DEP and the results show that there is no need for concern,” she said.

The state tested for radioactivity in seven rivers and creeks downstream from plants that treat drilling wastewater. In each case, the DEP found that readings for radioactive material were at or below safe water standards, something the drilling industry had maintained all along.

“I think it’s important for the public to know that the agency, DEP, is monitoring this and that the industry is highly attuned to the need to protect our drinking water and this was an example that that’s being done and it is safe,” said Katie Klaber of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

“I think it’s good news they haven’t found anything, but I don’t think that’s cause for sound an all-clear sign,” Steve Hvozdovich of Clean Water Action said.

Environmentalists still raise concern about whether the state is doing enough to protect drinking water and whether there has been adequate testing for other chemicals such as Benzene and Toluene that are produced in the gas extraction process.

“It’s not just the radiation that we need to be concerned about, it’s the toxic chemicals, it’s the salts, it’s the metals that also appear in this waste water that we need to be looking at as well,” Hvozdovich said.

But the DEP says it has caught up with the hazards of Marcellus drilling and is doing the proper testing and monitoring, including but not limited to radioactive materials.

“We believe the water is being cleared of those chemicals and we will continue to look at that,” Gresh said. “We will be diligent in monitoring this water and ensuring that it’s not putting anyone’s health and safety at risk.”

  • Shannon

    The radioactivity is at or below safe drinking water standers! which means its still present. Ms. Gresh we dont just drink this water we bath, cook, do laundry, clean the house including our kids toys so are we not being exposed other ways not just drinking . So how much is to much exposure to this radioactivity is safe!

    • Sam

      Relax there buddy there was no base test ever done, i mean im sure all the coal and steel boom didnt effect the environment. That being said i think we should be happy the DEP is doing tests like this and that we should be really happy the test pass from all the abuse this environment has taken from various industries

  • Tirade

    Do you really think they would be honest and tell us the levels are unsafe? Not only would it cause panic, but more importantly, it would hurt the drilling industry that pads our representatives’ pockets.

  • Shockly

    There is a natural amount of radioactivity in the enviroment. I wonder if the New York Times will do a follow up story on the findings. And why is it that Arnowitt did not put his two cents in here. This natural gas deposit has provided jobs and income for small farmers throughout this great state. And to think the vast oil field found in the Dakotas is just as deep and finds the same fight against the progress to drill for it.

  • Washed Up

    What should I tell the Culligan Man? I singed up for bottled water after seeing last weeks deadly news.

  • specialneedsmom

    Of course, the EPA tested the water UPSTREAM from the treatment plants that take in wastewater from the shale frackers.

    How about the EPA test the water DOWNSTREAM?????

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