Radioactivity and Natural Gas

Here is a copy of a letter a fellow concerned citizen wrote to the Environmental Quality Board in regards to radio activity and natural gas. This issue is quite alarming and has not been getting as much press coverage as some of the more obvious and worrisome issues. We are seeking answers and so far no one seems to be able to find them?

Dear Environmental Quality Board Members,

This is my second email concerning proposed changes in
Pennsylvania’s Wastewater Treatment Requirements and
it concerns radioactivity related to gas drilling in
the Marcellus shale layer in Pennsylvania.

First, I do not have a background in radioactivity.
However, I do know that DEC in New York State has
reported finding radioactive readings as high as
123,000 picocuries/liter in flow back fluids from
Marcellus wells up there. Their lowest reading was
14,530 picocuries/liter. The federal limit for
radiation in drinking water is 15 picocuries/liter.

The New York numbers seemed awfully high and I
am well schooled enough in geology to know that
Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shales were put down at
the same time as those in New York and that geology
doesn’t respect state boundaries. So, I sent a series
of questions to DEP to get some answers in mid-December.
Those questions were forwarded to the Bureau of Radiation
Protection in Harrisburg within a few days. I have since
followed up the original questions with a second email
on the 12th of January. To date I have received no
answers! Not even a note telling me that they are working
on the problem. Something isn’t right to my way of
thinking. Why the silence?

The questions asked in my emails in an abbreviated form:

1) Has Pennsylvania (DEP)taken radiation readings
from flow back water (the same liquids that have
already been discharged into some of our streams with
DEP approval) at some or any of our Marcellus wells?

2) What were the readings (picocuries/liter)?

3) When Marcellus wells are flared (burned, sometimes
for days, even weeks) how much radiation comes “up pipe”
with some of the liquids injected into the well as well
as small solid particles of sand and rock?

4) If our Marcellus flow back liquids and solids
are radioactive, is that radioactivity neutralized in
the heat of the burn?

5) How far away from the burn site will these liquids
and solids travel before falling back to earth and if
there is radioactivity present, should we be concerned?

I think I know some of the answers but I would like some
responsible state employee with the proper background
answer them for me. If what I suspect is true, then this
matter has the potential to be more difficult to deal
with than the TDS problem and I thought I should bring
it to your attention.


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