Fracking Waste . . . now add RADIOACTIVITY

Fracking Waste . . . now add RADIOACTIVITY

Postby Oscar » Sat Jul 21, 2012 8:41 am

Cracks in the Foundation: New Fracking Information Shows More Underground Contamination, Toxic Fluids Than Previously Thought

by Kate Sinding
Published on Friday, July 20, 2012 by Switchboard/NRDC

It looks like every day more and more cracks are appearing in the stock oil and gas industry argument about fracking-related water contamination. For those who haven’t heard it before, the standard line goes something like this: fracking couldn’t possibly contaminate underground drinking water because, between the productive shale layer and groundwater, there are thousands of feet of solid, impermeable rock. Even where contamination does occur, the claim continues, this is not due to fracking, but poor casing and cementing jobs, which are rare in practice and not worth worrying too much about.

The argument may sound nice, but there is an increasing body of evidence (and please forgive the pun here) that it’s anything but rock solid. I’ll highlight three recent findings:

New Findings on Casing and Cementing Failures – Industry-sponsored reports compiled by the Gasland folks (and explained in Josh Fox’s new short video, “The Sky is Pink”) demonstrate that not only are casing and cementing problems possible, they are an expected part of the drilling process. In certain areas, anywhere from 18% to 45% of wells experience such so-called “well integrity issues.” (For review, casings are the giant metal pipes that drillers place in the drilled wells to prevent gas and toxic frack fluid from bleeding out into underground sources of drinking water. Because there is usually space between the outside of the casing and the drilled hole or between the outside of one casing and the next, that space is filled with cement to seal potential pathways for leaks).

According to the reports, water can become contaminated when the casing itself corrodes or otherwise leaks (for example, see here), or when gaps in the cement outside the casing allow methane and other contaminants to travel up the well from shallow pockets of trapped gas, which may explain the results of a Duke University study last year linking methane contamination to gas drilling. Not all contamination is expected to happen immediately. Because drillers simply leave frack chemicals in the ground indefinitely after operations cease, casing and cementing problems may contaminate ground water anytime between now and the end of time.

New Computer Modeling Predicts Groundwater Contamination from Marcellus Drilling Within Years – Even where cementing and casing work perfectly, fracking fluids could still migrate up from the shale formations themselves into groundwater. A recent peer reviewed study by hydrogeologist Tom Myers, published in last April’s edition of the journal Ground Water, predicted, using computer modeling, that natural faults and fractures in the Marcellus, exacerbated by fracking, may lead to water contamination within ten years or less. Although natural migration without fracking would occur at a much slower rate, migration of waste fluid would be likely sped up by the pressures exerted from fracking.

(For other evidence of fluid migration from underground waste disposal wells, read Abraham Lustgarten’s recent article on the problems with underground injection control (UIC) wells. Frack wells are structurally very similar to UIC wells, except that they are exempted from federal standards under the Safe Drinking Water Act).

New Evidence Confirming Possible Contaminant Pathways in Pennsylvania – A new study from Duke University has found brine (i.e. salt water), with the same composition of deep underground brines associated with the Marcellus formation, in shallow underground drinking water in northeastern PA. Although the presence of brines was not correlated with gas drilling, the fact that they are in drinking water at all shows that there are more pathways between the Marcellus and shallow underground water than previously thought. The pathways, whether from natural fractures or old abandoned wells (like the 40,000 wells drilled in NY for which no records exist), would likely also carry toxic frack water pumped into the Marcellus at high pressure by fracking activities, meaning that areas with these pathways “could be at greater risk of contamination from shale gas development.”

All of these new findings emphasize two important points:

(1) that the standard industry contamination argument likely holds about as much water as a defective casing, and

(2) that groundwater contamination from fracking doesn’t necessarily happen overnight – we may continue to see contamination problems from fracking in the years, decades, and centuries to come.

© 2012 NRDC
Kate Sinding is a senior attorney in NRDC’s New York Urban Program.
Last edited by Oscar on Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Fracking Waste - now add Radioactive

Postby Oscar » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:56 am

New York Imports Pennsylvania’s Radioactive Fracking Waste Despite Falsified Water Tests

[ ... tests.html ]

By Peter Mantius, on August 14th, 2013

Natural Resources News Service | 2 comments

ANGELICA, N.Y. — Questions about the integrity of official water tests are stirring the latest controversy over New York State’s embattled policy of allowing imports of radioactive waste from natural gas drilling operations in Pennsylvania.

The issue arose last month in Casella Waste Systems’ bid to speed up by 49 percent deliveries to its Hyland Landfill in Angelica, about 80 miles south of Rochester. Neighbors of the landfill and the Sierra Club are asking the state to conduct a full environmental review of the case or at least to hold a public hearing on it. So far, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has not responded to those requests. “We are currently reviewing the comments received on the Casella solid waste application, and no decisions have been made,” said Lisa King, a DEC public information officer.

Meanwhile, water testing data related to Hyland and a wastewater treatment plant that accepts its leachate have been linked to a Syracuse laboratory that pled guilty in July to one felony count of mail fraud in a case said to involve 3,300 falsified water tests.

Federal prosecutors and the DEC have so far declined to provide details of the faked tests. But documents obtained by DCBureau confirm that the guilty company, Upstate Laboratories Inc., analyzed material from Hyland as recently as this past February. “It doesn’t allay our concerns that these guys have been dealing with a crooked lab,” said Gary Abraham, an attorney for Concerned Citizens of Allegany County, a group opposing Hyland’s latest permit bid.

The permit application is the last chapter in a long-simmering controversy over the DEC’s narrow interpretation of its responsibility to monitor radioactive waste. That legal stance has opened the door for imports of waste from horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania.

Most shale formations contain naturally occurring radioactive material, or NORM. Although contamination levels vary widely from well to well, the Marcellus formation is suspected to be the most radioactive of all the nation’s shales.

The brine, rock cuttings and drilling mud from Marcellus wells are likely to contain heightened levels of radium isotopes, including Radium 226, which is especially dangerous because it is soluble in water. Earlier this year, state regulators in Pennsylvania launched a study of radioactivity in Marcellus drilling waste, giving drillers in that state further incentive to find dumping options across the New York border. New York has not conducted or planned a similar study.


[ ... tests.html ]

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Upstate Analytic Report:

[ ... rt-Steuben ]
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