Bromides Found In Allegheny River

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There may be another potential threat to the area’s drinking water and while the cause is unknown, natural gas drilling is one of the suspects.

In the past, there have been problems in the Monongahela River with bromides, salty substances which can become carcinogenic when treated in water treatment plants.

KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan has discovered that same problem now exists in the Allegheny River – the water supply for the City of Pittsburgh and a host of other cities and towns.

“So whenever there’s any suggestion that something may have changed with the quality, we’re all over that,” Stanley States with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority said.

Several months ago, when the PSWA found elevated levels of bromides in the intake water, it raised a red flag. That’s because when they are combined with chloride in the treatment plant, bromides become a dangerous compound called trihalomethanes.

At PSWA, they had never been concerned about bromides and trihalomethanes in the past, but in the testing lab, they have tracked a steady increase over the past six months.

The drinking water is still within safe water standards, but could be approaching unsafe levels, especially for the most dangerous trihalomethene called bromoform.

“And that bromoform is disconcerting, because we never see bromoform here,” Mark Stoner, with the PSWA said.

Sheehan: “So this was a cause for alarm.”

Stoner: “Correct.”

The question is why now.

“One possible explanation is that bromide levels in the river may have increased associated with Marcellus Shale mining operations,” States said.

These bromides can come from acid mine runoff and coal-fired power plants, but States says what has changed on the river in the past two years is the amount of natural gas drilling wastewater being treated at plants.

And while the problem is manageable now, he says regulators need to make sure it stays that way.

“We are still in compliance. We’re definitely in compliance,” he said. “We’re concerned that this is an unusual increase that’s still in compliance. We don’t want this to get any worse.”


More Local News
More Reports By Andy Sheehan
Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

  • hc

    Great that some people are making money, but what about those that want to drink water and our supply comes from the Allegheny River? Guess we have to import it from somewhere? I have been told that even filters won’t get this stuff out of the water, so I guess we are out of luck. Thanks PA government officials for not thinking about this gas drilling that causes runoff of who knows what? You are destroying our drinking water and that is what you will be remembered for when cancer rises to an even more alarming rate.

    • Gary

      Exactly how much water do you drink on any given day. I’ll bet not enough. So before you let someone tell you, that the water cannot be treated, do some research on your own.

  • hedgie

    With the current governor announcing his budget cutting plans, get ready for bad water and more to protect the energy companies from taxes. I think Corbett wants everyone working in fast food restaurants while he and his staff dine on fine food. Hope the neo cons are happy with the election results. It will stop any progress in this state which already has a sorry record in support of education.

  • Nick

    You just keep drinking the cool-aid buddy

  • mike

    WHAT ABOUT THE OHIO? WE GET DOUBLE THE SLOP FROM BOTH RIVERS ANDY? INVESTIGATE THAT !west view water. that really would be the issue or r u on the dole?

  • Thirsty

    Wake up PA and hold these drilling companies accountable. Just what exactly are the chemical used in the fracking process? I know it is 95% water it’s the other 5% that concerns me. How ironic it will be with all that water flowing in the rivers yet none clean enough to drink.

    • Russell Helms

      5 % of 6 million = 300,000 gallons

  • Russell Helms

    Five wells in my backyard and three creeks surround the gas wells. Is anyone testing the creeks which empties into the youghiogheny river in Dawson. Lets talk war in Libya and not pollution. We need real reporters shining light on this daily, not once a month.

    • Dasani

      Buy bottled water Genius!

  • Becky Jenkins

    I’m right there with Russell, I have 3 wells surrounding me, 3 creeks around me also. I guess we all have to wait for a politician to get cancer before anything is done about all this destruction. I’ll either blow up or get a tumor in my brain from drinking the water….or my children. Than I will turn into Rambo! So tired of all the acting. It’s all about money….they are all making money and most are working out of state so who cares about our water, or our well being. There has been 3 gas well explosions that I’m aware of this year. And now this, I’m not surprised, just fed up!

  • Concerned Resident

    Here is an interesting article (by David B. Caruso – Associated Press) Addressing what is going on in PA in regards to partially treated water flowing into our area rivers at an alarming rate.

    Copy this link into your internet browser:

  • Lorax

    The oil and gas industry’s hydraulic fracturing is currently exempt from complying with the safe drinking water act. As a concerned community, we must stand together and let our voices be heard that we love Pennsylvania, and even if our legislative bodies (60% of Corbett’s funds are paid from oil and gas) have made commitments to industry, they have us to contend with. Please call, write, and protest the destruction of our rivers and of our beautiful state. Please visit your congressman’s and governor’s website for their contact information. They need to hear from you.

  • Road salt

    Youre good!

  • Gary

    Due to the amount of salt dumped on the roadways, it seems obvious that the bromide levels will increase due to the amount of run-off into the streams and rivers.

  • Anti Gas

    gary obviously has the same lined pockets as corbett

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