Monday, August 15, 2022

Play

President Biden this week is poised to sign into law sweeping legislation that addresses climate change and prescription drug costs; Measuring the Supreme Court abortion decision's impact in the corporate world; Disaster recovery for Eastern Kentucky businesses.

Play

Federal officials warn about threats against law enforcement; Democrats push their climate, health, and tax bill through Congress; and a new report reveals 800 Americans were evacuated during the Afghanistan withdrawal.

Play

Infrastructure funding is on its way, ranchers anticipate money from the Inflation Reduction Act, and rural America is becoming more diverse, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the leadership.

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

In 2021, damages from floods and other severe weather in the United States exceeded $145 billion. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

In the wake of historic summer floods in the Midwest and Appalachia, there are calls for a new national plan to reduce risks from disasters. The …


Social Issues

Small businesses that suffered damage or destruction from the recent historic flooding in Eastern Kentucky can get one-on-one assistance as they try t…

Environment

The Inflation Reduction Act, newly passed by the U.S. Senate, allocates $369 Billion to fight climate change, and appropriates funds specifically for …


Social Issues

By Linda Burstyn for Ms. Magazine Broadcast version by Roz Brown for New Mexico News Connection/Public News Service Bad Business: Anti-abortion …

In Pennsylvania's Nov. 8 General Election, voters will decide races for governor, U.S. House and Senate, and several state offices. (Zimmytws/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Opening up Pennsylvania's primary elections to voters who aren't registered either as Democrats or Republicans is the topic of a State House of Repres…

Social Issues

August is National Black Business Month, and this year, for Black-owned companies in Pennsylvania that have managed to survive through the pandemic…

Social Issues

On August 27, members of the public will have a rare opportunity to visit the historic Padlock Ranch first developed for livestock in 1867, now …

 

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