PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s been a tough run for the Marcellus Shale drilling industry, two accidents and allegations in the New York Times that local rivers have been contaminated by radioactivity; but the industry says it will be taking the allegations head on.

Industry representatives, led by former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, took a tour Thursday afternoon of something called a compressor station, where natural gas is separated before processing.

John Mollenkopt, of the company MarkWest, says they have taken steps to contain noise and air pollution.

“We want to try very hard to put the most environmentally sound facilities in,” Mollenkopt said. “We want to keep noise down, keep nuisance down.”

However, two accidents, including last week’s spectacular fire in Avella, have the industry trying to settle public doubts that the extraction of gas can be done safely.

On Wednesday, officials toured a Range Resources site where vapors have been eliminated, something that may be adopted by other drillers.

“Well, I think that vapor recovery is clearly a best practice,” said Katie Klaber, of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. “We talked today about going above and beyond.”

At a round table discussion Thursday, there was still buzz about a report in the Times that the Monongahela River and other waterways have been contaminated by Marcellus drilling with radium and other radioactive materials.

Klaber says the industry favors a new round of testing even though it believes that radioactive materials are being removed to a safe level from drilling water before it’s discharged into the waterways.

“But absolutely we need to do additional work downstream to make sure that the water is tested and the industry is committed to being an important part of that process,” said Klaber.

So, the drilling industry has joined the calls for comprehensive testing of our rivers and streams for radioactivity in an effort to settle the concerns and questions in the public’s mind.

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Range Resources
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