Duke Releases New Study on Radioactive Wastewater in Ongoing Effort to Condemn Fracking

Multiple sources are reporting on a new study from Duke University which concludes that radioactive wastewater from fracking contaminated a stream in Pennsylvania.

From Smithsonian's Surprising Science blog:
Recently, a group of Duke University scientists decided to do some testing. They contacted the owners of one treatment plant, the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility on Blacklick Creek in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, but, “when we tried to work with them, it was very difficult getting ahold of the right person,” says Avner Vengosh, an Earth scientist from Duke. “Eventually, we just went and tested water right from a public area downstream.”
Their analyses, made on water samples collected repeatedly over the course of two years, were even more concerning than we’d feared. As published today in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, they found high concentrations of of the element radium, a highly radioactive substance. The concentrations were roughly 200 times higher than background levels. In addition,  amounts of chloride and bromide in the water were two to ten times greater than normal.
“Even if, today, you completely stopped disposal of the wastewater,” Vengosh says, there’s enough contamination built up that”you’d still end up with a place that the U.S. would consider a radioactive waste site.”
Read the whole article here.

The industry has been quick to respond.

From USA Today:
An industry group faults the Duke study as outdated and biased. "The shale industry has not taken flow-back water to this treatment facility, or any similar facility in Pennsylvania, since May 2011," says Patrick Creighton, spokesman of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. He cites 2011 tests by state environment officials that showed no radioactive contaminants in the water used and produced at 12 of 14 water suppliers in western Pennsylvania.
Creighton says the study's partial funding from New York-based Park Foundation, which has supported some anti-fracking projects, raises questions about impartiality.
"We're scientists. We don't have an agenda," Vengosh says, noting that the foundation provided only minimal funding -- $70,000 -- for field work. He says the study, like prior Duke research that hasn't found evidence of fracking-related water problems, was reviewed by an independent group of scientists prior to publication.
Read that whole article here. 

You can be sure that the rest of the response to this study will follow the familiar format of each side of the fracking debate digging in and fighting harder for their pre-existing viewpoints.

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