Energy. Environment. Economy.

DEP Unveils More Details About Marcellus Radiation Study

Reuters/Tim Shaffer/Landov

A worker pours salt into a mixer as he prepares drilling fluid near Towanda. The DEP says based on current data, "there is no indication that the public or workers in the oil and gas industry face health risks from exposure to radiation."

The state Department of Environmental Protection has unveiled more details about how it plans to conduct a study of levels of naturally occurring radioactivity in materials associated with oil and gas drilling.

As StateImpact Pennsylvania reported, the DEP announced the study in January:

The announcement comes almost two years after a series of reports in the New York Times revealed radioactive waste water from gas drilling was discharged into Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams. The industry has since stopped the practice, but the DEP says it plans to analyze radioactivity in frack flowback water, drill cuttings, drill mud, and the levels in equipment such as pipes, well casings storage tanks, treatment systems and trucks.

DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday says today’s announcement explains more about the agency’s plans, but right now there’s no reason to believe the public is in any kind of danger.

“There’s nothing out there to indicate the public or industry face any kind of risk of radiation exposure.”

The agency has hired an outside contractor, Perma-Fix Environmental Services, which will work in conjunction with DEP staff to focus on the quantity of “naturally occurring radioactive materials” (NORM) and ”technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material” (TENORM).

NORM can become TENORM when materials are mixed together, moved, or otherwise changed.

The study will examine seven areas:

  • ambient air
  • drill cuttings
  • natural gas
  • natural gas processing pipes and equipment
  • waste water generated from drilling sites
  • sludge resulting from the processing of waste water from the well pad development process
  • landfill leachate
It’s expected to take 12 to14 months. Sampling will begin in mid-April at sites throughout the state, including areas producing “dry” gas in Northern and Central Pennsylvania as well as at least one “wet” gas site in the Southwestern part of the state.


  • Domenica

    NO threat to the Public? They must be kidding. They’ve been dumping radioactive wastewater in Pennsylvania ever since drilling began. We haven’t mapped the contaminants yet, we haven’t seen the Health Files of the Sickened and Harmed. Bogus study will result in bogus stats. We have the files. We have the sickened. No Amount of money can shut the public out. Non-Disclosure agreements will be opened up for public review. This industry is on it’s way OUT.

  • William Huston

    Here’s a story about fracking and radiation, which NO “legitimate”, “credentialed”, “professional” NEWS SOURCE has picked up yet: the use of DU in Perf Guns. I found the Halliburton patent!

  • William Huston

    PS: the PA DEP study is doomed to fail. From DORY HIPPAUF:

    According to DEP data regarding the study, among the substances to be tested for are Radium-226, Radium-228, Uranium-238, Uranium-235, Uranium-234, Thorium-232, Radon-220 and Radon-222.

    According to PA-DEP Recommended Basic Oil & Gas Pre-Drill Parameters testing for Barium and Strontium are listed, but not Radium-226, Radium-228, Uranium-238, Uranium-235, Uranium-234, Thorium-232, Radon-220 and Radon-222.

    With the disparity of the study’s scope compared to DEP pre-drill testing recommendation, you can see why it is easy for the natural gas corporations to deny responsibility.“

  • William Huston

    Please call PADEP and ask them to include U-236 as one of the chemicals they will test for in their radiation study. This is a way to positively ID the presence of Depleted Uranium. Please see my blog on the Halliburton Patent for using DU in fracking perf guns.

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