Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Play

A new Supreme Court case will focus on state legislative control of federal elections, community health centers seek protection against Big Pharma, and Oregon's estuary management plan gets an update.

Play

A shooting near Chicago leaves six dead and dozens injured, Democratic governors huddle to ensure abortion access, and officials say the "Remain in Mexico" immigration policy will be phased out in the coming weeks.

Play

From flying saucers to bologna: America's summer festivals kick off, rural hospitals warn they do not have the necessities to respond in the post-Roe scramble, advocates work to counter voter suppression, and campaigns encourage midterm voting in Indian Country.

Study: Treated Oil, Gas Wastewater Leaves Radioactive Contamination

Play

Monday, February 5, 2018   

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Over time, treated oil and gas wastewater is leaving radioactive deposits in the stream beds where it is released, scientists have found.

A team of Duke University researchers found highly elevated levels of radium in the mud where three Pennsylvania treatment plants released wastewater. That's even after the water was treated to greatly reduce its radioactivity, said Avner Vengosh, the professor of geochemistry who led the research team.

"We found that, indeed, there is a large enrichment of radioactive elements in those stream sediments,” Vengosh said. “It's about 600 times the level that we found upstream."

The industry says the brine and other water from oil and gas wells contains some naturally occurring radioactive elements, but only at very low levels. Vengosh and his team have been focusing on the ways these elements become concentrated in stream beds.

Vengosh noted the treated wastewater was from conventional oil and gas wells, not fracking wells - although he said the Duke researchers have found similar issues where fracking wastewater had been released. He added that Pennsylvania stopped the release of treated wastewater from fracking operations some years ago.

He said one troubling issue is how high these concentrations can get - as high as ten times the radioactivity of low level radioactive waste from, say, a hospital or power plant.

"So they are exceeding the level that this site should be, defined as a low radioactive disposal site,” Vengosh said. “Obviously, they are not - it's the middle of a stream in Pennsylvania."

He said most of the nation's oil and gas brine is injected into deep disposal wells, although the geology in Pennsylvania often makes that impossible. Vengosh said treating the wastewater isn't enough.

"I don't think there is a direct human health risk immediately from those sites,” he said. “But there is a chronic contamination of the environment. Even the treatment, it's not sufficient to address this problem."

Oil and gas wastewater is sometimes used to melt the ice on roads. Vengosh said that also may not be safe.


get more stories like this via email

PETA wants the government to change its rules that allow "humane" labels on meat products without an audit of farm practices to confirm they are cruelty-free. (Marco Verch/Flickr)

Environment

Government labels on meat products that say "humane" or "raised in a stress-free environment" are meaningless, according to some animal-rights groups…


Social Issues

A new report found when high school students enroll in early college programs, it improves the chances they will go on to college after graduation…

Social Issues

As hurricane season kicks into full gear, Pennsylvania officials are reflecting on the impacts of Hurricane Agnes 50 years ago, and urging property …


Social Issues

Community health centers are calling on state and federal lawmakers for added protections against drug manufactures for drastically cutting them out o…

In the 1920s and 1930s, agents for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power posed as ranchers and bought land and water rights in Mono County. (Jennifer Little)

Environment

The futures of tourism, wildlife and ranching in Mono County are now at the mercy of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power - according to …

Social Issues

Coming off a string of controversial opinions, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a case tied to oversight of federal elections…

Health and Wellness

Some New York health care facilities are getting a funding boost to help train the next generation of doctors and dentists. The U.S. Department of …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021