First, read this:
2016: The Most Horrific Frac Deregulation Yet? US EPA preparing for “widespread” radioactive frac waste contamination of drinking water or because it’s already happened? EPA’s proposed “protective regulation” to allow dramatically higher levels of radioactivity in drinking water
In the year 3619 by Bob Donnan, Dec 18, 2019, Bobscaping
FACT: Marcellus Shale gas drilling waste contains water soluble Radium 226 and Radium 228 that have contaminated our local environment. Over the past 15 years, this waste has been illegally dumped in multiple counties, willfully dumped into our waterways through sewage plants, and continues to be permitted waste in municipal landfills.
DRILLING MARCELLUS SHALE
“Essentially what you are doing is taking an underground radioactive reservoir and bringing it up to the biosphere where it can interact with people and the environment.” – Nuclear forensic scientist with nearly 20 years examining radioactivity.
HOW RADIOACTIVE FRACKING WASTE GETS IN PENNSYLVANIA WATERWAYS
”Is this real? Is radioactive waste flowing into our waterways? Yes. As Public Herald reported, not only is this a reality for at least 15 sewage facilities in Pennsylvania.” Interactive map source
I just finished reading the book, The Radium Girls. What 100-year-old lessons might we learn from these women, who painted watch and dial faces with the same radioactive materials that are present in Marcellus Shale?
New York Times Bestseller
The RADIUM GIRLS
The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women
The book focuses on young women from New Jersey and Illinois, often referred to as “artists,” who used luminescent paint to make the numbers and hands on watch and clock faces glow-in-the-dark. The most commonly used material was Radium 226 (Ra226), while at least one factory also added some Radium 228 (Ra228) to the paint mix.
As hard as it is to believe now, 100 years ago there was even a health supplement containing Ra228 known as Radithor. The dangers of exposure to these radionuclides began to reveal themselves in the radium girls during the Roaring 20’s, between World War I and America’s Great Depression.
The radium girls used fine bristled brushes to paint the luminous dials, and were taught a method known as “Lip – Dip – Paint” with the critical first step being repeated “pointing” of the brush with their lips, to keep the bristles close together in a point. They were repeatedly placing these brushes into their mouths.
Since they were told, and believed, the luminescent dust and paint was “safe,” they didn’t take any safety measures when it came to their exposure. As we have learned from pesticide safety training, there are 4 routes of pesticide poisoning, easily remembered using the abbreviation “ODIE.” The radium girls’ primary exposure route would have been oral, since they were constantly putting those brushes in their mouths, although they were likely exposed by all 4 routes since the dust got everywhere.
- Oral – mouth
- Dermal – skin
- Inhalation – lungs
Once the serious dangers of radium poisoning revealed themselves, there were many long, drawn-out court cases, where the girls fought for justice. The corporations involved fought them tooth and nail, using various tactics to deny them compensation for medical bills and damages. Their sacrifices led to many of OSHA’s worker safety standards in place today.
As interesting as their court battles were, I want to focus more on their health outcomes, especially since we’ve had some youth cancer clusters appear in our four county region of southwestern Pennsylvania over the same timeline as Marcellus drilling and fracking. At least one health study is underway to determine if there is any link to Ewing sarcoma and other youth cancers.
What health outcomes did the radium girls have that show similarities? These excerpts from the book stood out:
“The Center for Human Radiobiology (CHR) studied the dial-painters for decades. Its scientists came to learn that radium was a wily, tenacious element. With a half-life of 1,600 years, it had plenty of time to make itself known in those it had infiltrated, inflicting its own, special damage across the decades.”
“The older the women were when they dial-painted, and the fewer years they worked, the less likely they were to die in the early stages—so they lived on, but the radium lived with them, a marriage from which there was no divorce.”
“The Argonne List of the Doomed makes for chilling reading, charting as it does each woman’s suffering with cool detachment. ‘Bilateral amputations of both legs; amputation of right knee; died of cancer of ear; brain; hip; cause of death: sarcoma; sarcoma; sarcoma‘ over and over through the files.”
“CAUTION: RADIOACTIVE SHALE”
Read the book. If it doesn’t worry you, it probably should. With the Marcellus Shale being notorious for its highly radioactive nature, it’s time for Pennsylvania and other states to begin handling this shale waste for the “wily, tenacious element” it truly is, by “thinking it forward” – since it will persist another sixteen hundred years in our environment—until the year 3619. You can learn more in the report below.
Excerpts from a report prepared for Residents for the Preservation of Lowman and Chemung (RFPLC) concerning disposal of Marcellus Shale waste in a municipal landfill, dated May 19, 2010 and titled Radioactivity in Marcellus Shale by Marvin Resnikoff, Ph.D., Ekaterina Alexandrova, and Jackie Travers of Radioactive Waste Management Associates, New York, NY
[Complete PDF Report]
- Uranium, a radionuclide present in the Marcellus shale formation, is not soluble in water, but radium-226, a progeny of uranium, is soluble in water and can become mobilized when formation water is brought to the surface with drilling fluid and drill cuttings. Due to its prolonged existence in an underground formation, formation water can become highly concentrated in radium-226 and other radionuclides.
- During horizontal drilling, a liquid drilling fluid is used to circulate drill cuttings to the well surface. Again, this drilling fluid mixes with formation water that may be highly concentrated in radium-226 and other water-soluble radionuclides.
- Radioactivity in the Marcellus shale results from the high content of naturally occurring radioactive uranium and thorium, their decay products including Radium-226, and radioactive potassium elements. The evidence of high radionuclide content is present in geochemical studies and in gamma-ray logs from wells drilled into the Marcellus formation.
- In 1981 the United States Geological Survey performed a geochemical study of trace elements and uranium in the Devonian shale of the Appalachian Basin. Since Radium-226 is in secular equilibrium with U-238, it is also on the order of 30 pCi/g. These data show that the radioactivity of the Marcellus formation remains consistently high throughout.
- In addition to geochemical studies, gamma ray drill logs also indicate high radioactivity in Marcellus shale. In fact, the Marcellus shale formation is identified using a gamma-ray detector that produces a chart of radioactivity (measured in GAPI units) versus depth. Shale rock always displays a spike on such graphs, but compared to other shales the Marcellus shale formation spike is substantially greater.
- Several problems exist concerning contaminated liquid in the landfill. First, municipal waste landfills are lined with a layer of clay and plastic and are not designed to contain low level radioactive wastes. The leachate could mobilize radionuclides and distribute them in other locations throughout the landfill or potentially transport the radionuclides to groundwater sources outside the landfill in the event of a breach in the landfill lining.
- Second, the fluid will mix with leachate collected in the Chemung County landfill. This leachate with residues of radionuclides will be sent to the Elmira wastewater treatment plant, which, like the landfill itself, is also not designed to deal with radioactive waste. Radium-226 has a 1600-year half-life, so this is a long-term problem.
- Third, from the increasing inventory of radium-226, the landfill will generate progressively increasing volumes of radon gas over time, much of which can be expected to escape uncontrolled. As an inert gas, the landfill gas combustion device cannot control radon.
- Fourth, trucks transporting cuttings waste to the landfill will carry a substantial volume of liquid with the cuttings and therefore can be expected to leak on occasion. The leaking liquid is particularly radioactive and, over time, can be expected to contaminate local roadways and roadways inside the landfill site.
- The Marcellus shale has elevated radioactive concentrations, approximately 25-30 times above background concentrations. The drilling and dewatering processes enhance the concentration of radium in the drilling fluid. Rock cuttings that hold up to 20% of this fluid are still considered solid waste and will be disposed of in the County landfill. The introduction of this radioactive material into the landfill will give rise to serious problems due to the generation of radon, radiologically contaminated leachate and to potential reuse of the site in the future.
- NYSDEC regulations regarding the radiation doses from a decommissioned site and the allowable concentrations of radium in soil will be exceeded. In our opinion, these radioactive rock cuttings and associated radioactive drilling fluids belong in a radioactive landfill, such as the Envirocare landfill in Clive, Utah. Radium-contaminated waste is similar to U mill tailings, which the Utah landfill is designed for.
On January 20, 2018 Reid Frazier of StateImpact Pennsylvania reported:
Study: Conventional drilling waste responsible for radioactivity spike in rivers
Treatment plants that handle conventional oil and gas waste water are causing a buildup of radioactive materials at the bottom of three Western Pennsylvania waterways, according to a new study from researchers at Duke. “We concluded that recent disposal of treated conventional (oil and gas waste) is the source of high (radium concentrations) in stream sediments at (waste) facility disposal sites,” the authors wrote. The study found high levels of radium, a naturally occurring, radioactive material, in river and stream sediment at levels up to 650 times those found upstream of three industrial waste treatment plants that handle fluid produced by conventional oil and gas wells.
Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia University says even conventional waste water can be high in radium, so he’s not surprised at the study’s result. “When we’ve compared conventional and unconventional brines, chemically they’re almost identical,” he said. “It would be surprising to me if radium didn’t show up.” Ziemkiewicz says drinking water facilities must remove radium from drinking water; the most obvious concern he has would be for the accumulation of radium in the food chain, and eventually, fish. According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, long term exposure to radium increases risk of lymphoma, bone cancer, and leukemia.
“Government Failed You” — Pittsburgh State Rep. Drafts Bill to Stop Radioactive Fracking Waste (TENORM) From Entering Public Waters by Joshua B. Pribanic, Dec 10, 2019, Public Herald, Project: Smoking Gun
[Excellent visuals and data at link to this article above]
Pittsburgh’s Freshman State Representative Sara Innamorato is drafting a bill to regulate TENORM (Technically Enhanced Radioactive Material) from fracking waste in response to Public Herald’s leachate investigation.
Innamorato’s effort would take on a regulatory loophole described in Public Herald’s August 2019 report that allows radioactive fracking waste dumped at landfills to be sent as leachate to sewage treatment plants and discharged to public waters. Fracking waste contains high levels of radionuclides known as TENORM which are water soluble and end up in the landfill leachate, but are unregulated and cannot be treated or removed by sewage plants.
Rep. Innamorato told Public Herald that there’s still a lot of work to be done before this effort becomes a bill. But she’s confident her office will produce something with “teeth.”
Is this real? Is radioactive waste flowing into our waterways?
As Public Herald reported, not only is this a reality for at least 15 sewage facilities in Pennsylvania; states like Ohio, New York, North Dakota, West Virginia, and more are playing a part.
Any landfill that accepts fracking waste and discharges leachate to sewage plants would undergo the same pollution to waterways.
The waste is moving into new areas. Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) came under fire this month for working to change TENORM regulations at landfills in order to accept waste from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale. It’s unclear as of yet where these landfills in Montana will send their leachate.
In Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released a cradle-to-grave TENORM study in 2016 that found radionuclides throughout the life cycle of fracking waste. But these findings were successfully buried, as news organizations and NGOs alike echoed DEP’s 2015 press release: “DEP Study Shows There is Little Potential for Radiation Exposure from Oil and Gas Development.”
Public Herald analyzed the study and found the Department excluded serious environmental health and safety discoveries in public statements. If DEP’s own records are correct, current amounts being discharged to waters of the commonwealth far exceed pollution levels of concern established by the EPA.
Each landfill DEP tested in the study who accepted TENORM from fracking detected radiation in their leachate. In one location Radium-226 was measured in leachate at 378 pCi/L — the safe drinking water level set by the EPA is 5pCi/L. With a half-life of 1600 years, the legacy of radium from fracking will create exposure pathways for centuries in public water sediment if treated by sewage plants.
Soil samples outside of Centralized Waste Treatment (CWT) plants had the same results in the study. CWTs — like the one opposed in Public Herald’s 2018 report — produced levels of Radium-226 in soil at 100 times greater than the concentration limit for uranium mill tailings (5 picocuries per gram) set by the EPA.
These exceedingly high levels of Radium-226 were discovered throughout the DEP study but largely undisclosed by the Department to the public.
Furthermore, DEP wouldn’t reveal the locations of facilities they tested when Public Herald pressed for this information. “I don’t believe there’s a list of every location that was sampled. We don’t actually have that,” DEP regulatory counsel Kim Childe told Public Herald in a 2015 conference call about the study. “I’m not sure how that information helps you. I’m not sure what you’re trying to do and you don’t have to tell me.”
When asked about disclosing records that could explain TENORM risks to the public Childe told our reporters, “We [did] this study to understand how to protect human health. If there was any data showing this is a public health risk we’d be on it.” Childe’s team dissuaded a concerned citizen from pursuing a right-to-know request as a result of their statements on the call.
“Government failed you,” State Rep. Innamorato pointed out when Public Herald asked for her response to DEP’s study.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no option on the table for states to regulate TENORM.
Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act’s (RCRA’s) there’s a “domestic sewage exclusion.” It states that “liquid wastes mixed with domestic sewage and discharged to a wastewater treatment plant are not regulated under RCRA, because they are subject to the Clean Water Act.”
The Clean Water Act was created to prevent facilities from releasing any and all pollution to public waterways unless authorized by a permit — commonly known as the “NPDES” permit. However, EPA has not created standards for discharging TENORM to surface waters. But EPA has established TENORM as a pollutant with enforceable limitations for effluent leaving a uranium mill processing site.
If a citizen at any location feels threatened or injured by pollution from the waterways in Public Herald’s report they can file a lawsuit under the Clean Water Act to stop the pollution.
“Liquids and sludge may be discharged to a wastewater treatment plant generally through a connection to the sewer,” according to the EPA. “There are no current federal regulations concerning disposal of radionuclides to the sewer. Liquid wastes that are mixed with domestic sewage and discharged to the sewer are not considered hazardous wastes, although wastes trucked to a wastewater treatment plant might be.”
DEP’s study produced TENORM levels sent to landfills in exceedance of limitations set by these federal standards. If enforced, this could qualify the waste for relocation to one of only six facilities in the country capable of handling low level radioactive waste.
EPA clarifies that, “States that have adopted TENORM regulations that apply to water treatment facilities may also have placed radionuclide discharge requirements on wastewater treatment plants.”
For landfills, “There is no federal requirement to test radionuclide concentrations in solid residuals prior to disposal. However, there are restrictions on the transport of waste that exceeds certain radioactivity thresholds and states and disposal facilities may have requirements for testing or disposal of TENORM.”
EPA’s overall framework for regulations governing radioactive material is not a straight line. For each source or practice the agency divides the responsibility into the following categories:
- Operations of uranium fuel-cycle facilities (Atomic Energy Act).
- Radioactivity in drinking water (Safe Drinking Water Act).
- Radioactivity in liquid discharges (Clean Water Act).
- Uranium and thorium mill tailings (Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act; Atomic Energy Act).
- Radioactive waste management and disposal (Atomic Energy Act).
- Remediation of radioactively contaminated sites (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, CERCLA; Atomic Energy Act).
- Airborne emissions of radionuclides (Clean Air Act).
- Indoor radon (Indoor Radon Abatement Act).
The 2016 DEP TENORM study produced results that should have triggered a statewide moratorium on the transport, treatment and disposal of waste from fracking. So why didn’t it?
Fracking Investigated Following Surge of Rare Cancer Cases in Pennsylvania by Bruce Rule , Dec20, 2019, Karmaimpact
Fracking, assailed for its environmental cost while its made the U.S. the world’s top oil producer, is being investigated as a possible cause in the surge of young people hit by a rare cancer in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania is funding research into finding if there’s a link between fracking and rising cases of Ewing sarcoma in the state’s southwest. In four counties, 31 people were diagnosed with the disease from 2006 through 2017, a 40% increase from the prior 11-year period, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing state cancer data.
Fracking, breaking underground rock to make oil and natural gas easier to extract, has contributed to the production of more than seven billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas over the past 70 years, according to the Independent Petroleum Association of America. The process is for contaminating groundwater supplies and harming the environment. England halted fracking in November, and several U.S. states, including New York, ban the practice. Some Democratic U.S. presidential candidates have called for a ban.
While there is no known environmental cause for Ewing sarcoma, Pennsylvania wants to see if there is a connection, Rachel Levine, the state’s secretary of health, told the WSJ.
“The biggest challenge is that a correlation doesn’t necessarily prove causation,” she said.
While the state’s three main oil-and-gas industry associations told the Wall Street Journal that they support the research, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned that an end to fracking would have harmful effects on the state’s economy.
A ban would lead to the loss of more than 600,000 jobs in Pennsylvania between 2021 and 2025, and reduce the state’s gross domestic product by $261 billion over the same period, according to a study released this week by the chamber’s Global Energy Institute.
Pennsylvania plans to spend $3.9 million to do the research into the Ewing sarcoma cases. A second study will look at potential associations between fracking and oil industry in the region and conditions such as asthma, headaches and preterm births.
Ewing sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that occurs in bones or soft tissues, hits about three in one million children, or about 250 kids in the U.S., each year. The cause is unknown and there are no clear risk factors.
After String of Rare Cancer Cases, Pennsylvania Investigates Potential Link to Fracking, Spate of Ewing’s sarcoma diagnoses in Washington County sparks probe: ‘We want them to look at everything,’ one father who lost a son said by Kris Maher, Dec 20, 2019, The Wall Street Journal
CECIL TOWNSHIP, Pa.—An increase in the number of teens and young adults diagnosed with a rare cancer in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania has caused the state to look for a link between fracking and the disease.
The investigation was sparked by a spate of Ewing’s sarcoma cases in and around Washington County, which has more Marcellus Shale gas wells than any other county in the state. In April, the state Department of Health found that the cases didn’t constitute a statistically significant cancer cluster. But affected…
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Refer also to:
Ewing sarcoma families synergized? Pennsylvania to spend two years and $4M to study possible link between fracking and spike in childhood cancers and other health harms: “We came in with a united goal…and it wasn’t to ban fracking. We want an investigation….” while the frac fumes, chemical spills, waste pits, leaching of radioactive waste into waterways, and drinking water contamination cases escalate unimpeded, frac chemicals remain undisclosed, even to physicians, and children die.
Washington County PA: Family members tell state to ‘fix’ cancer study. How many cancers/deaths in Alberta caused by frac/oil industry chemicals & pollution? How would we know? Authorities not looking, too busy blowing taxpayer money up their Hanky Panky asses, denying, lying, and changing names on propaganda machines to enable more carcinogenic oil industry pollution!
Air Pollution and Cancer Spikes linked in Alberta; Alberta’s Oil Legacy: Bad Air and Rare Cancers, Sickening carcinogens now saturate Industrial Heartland, study finds
Hormone-disrupting chemicals found in ground and surface water at fracking sites, Peer reviewed study of fracking sites in Garfield County Colorado finds chemicals linked to infertility, birth defects and cancer
Fort Chipewyan rare cancer cases cry out for study; Fort Chipewyan councillor latest resident diagnosed with rare cancer, ‘How can this keep happening?’
Study: Toxic Chemicals, Carcinogens at Levels Far Exceeding Federal Limits Near Frac Sites, Will almost certainly lead to cancer increase in surrounding areas
Santos CBM in NSW Australia contaminates aquifer with uranium at 20 times the safe drinking water levels; Regulator does not test for thorium, radon and radium! Thorium and radon are known to cause lung cancer.
Environmental causes of childhood cancers ‘grossly underestimated.’ In Canada, toxic chemicals used by oil and gas industry are exempt under CEPA (1999)
Bravo! Prevent Cancer Now calls out AER’s Health Fraud! “The AER has no jurisdiction for human health, and Alberta is famed for a chill against the medical community linking ill health to petrochemicals.”
Pennsylvania Study Links Fracking to Health Hazards in Fetuses, Infants, Young Children: 35.1% more cancer in children ages zero to four in heavily frac’d counties. Compare to AER’s belittling, dismissive health study in the Lochend
“What is the acceptable risk for increased risk for childhood cancer? It’s zero.” & Open Letter by Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment to NB Premier Gallant: Termination of Dr. Eilish Cleary, Chief Medical Officer of Health, a concern
2016: Yale School of Public Health: Fracking Linked to Cancer-Causing Chemicals; Pennsylvanians Against Fracking Call on Governor Wolf to Implement Statewide
2016: Elevated Cancer risks surround oil & gas drilling. Fracking is bad for your health says Israel Health Ministry official; Frac flowback stage causes greatest air pollution; WORLD-WIDE STUDY: One in three strokes caused by air pollution
2016: Promised Frac Prosperity for All? Albertans (frac’d more than anywhere else in Canada) face longer wait times for cancer surgery that rank among worst in Canada, report says
2016: New Study Confirms Fracking Wastewater Is Cancer-Causing. “Barium and Strontium were elevated in frac flowback water exposed cells.” Encana and Alberta government testing showed barium & strontium doubled in Ernst’s water after Encana’s illegal aquifer fracing
2016: How stupid can humanity get, or was this greed driven? Steve Harper committed North America to Radioactive Hell? Deadly shipments to start by road of 23,000 litres of highly radioactive liquid waste from Ontario to South Carolina, 100 to 150 armed convoys hauling the waste for years 1,700 km through some of NA’s most populous areas
2016: Didsbury Hell: Do ordinary Albertans pay to repair oil & gas industry damages to public roads caused by hauling hundreds of thousands of tonnes of contaminated oilfield waste? Radioactive? Toxic with secret chemicals, carcinogens, heavy metals, BTEX? Hold your breath if you live nearby.
2016: UK fracking firm plans to dump likely radioactive frac waste into the sea, Ineos company emails reveal huge amounts of frac waste need to be dumped, Legal update from Tina Louise, Opposition to UK fracking plans swells, Local democracy at stake
2016: Meet Alberta’s Radioactive Ranchers: Nielle and Howard Hawkwood. Timing is everything. Why did AIMCo (ATB/Heritage Fund connected) announce $200 Million (bailout?) investment in “Quite leveraged” Calfrac on same day NDP Rural Caucus try to get Nielle Hawkwood’s frac ban resolution on floor of NDP’s Annual Convention?
2017: Supreme Court of Canada took a year & a day to rule on Ernst v. AER, a much less complicated case! Texas Supreme Court rules in two months that energy regulator doesn’t have exclusive jurisdiction over McAllen’s radioactive contamination win against Sabine Oil & Gas Corp. (previously Forest Oil), Refuses to wipe out $22.7 million (US) arbitration award while Supreme Court of Canada punts Ernst’s “valid Charter claim” against AER into outer space, orders Ernst to pay AER’s legal costs
2019: More than 100 orgs, 800 individuals push PA Gov. Tom Wolf to probe link between frac’ing and proliferation of childhood cancers; Ewing Sarcoma Presentation by Raina Rippel
2019: Pennsylvania: Grant Township vs DEP legal battle over drilling & frac’ing waste water continues. “The waste contains radioactive material and unknown chemicals. The regulations are failing our people.”
2019: Radioactive frac waste piling higher and higher; Groundwater used by families showing significant increases in radium. Montana regulator, DEQ, trying to increase radiation limit for frac waste up four times, four times more than allowed in any other state.
2019: Study: Oil Gas Industry Wastewater spread on roads to control dust & ice in at least 13 states, including Pennsylvania, poses threat to environment & human health; Ohio regulator tests on Aquasalina/Nature’s Own Source (made with frac waste, spread on roads, sold at Lowes and to cities for years) showed combined radium 226 & 228 exceeded USEPA Safe Drinking Water limits by average factor of 300