Oil and gas wastewater radioactivity persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments

Photo: Treated oil and gas wastewater flows into a stream in western Pennsylvania. A new Duke study finds stream sediments at disposal sites such as this one have levels of radioactivity that are 650 times higher than at unaffected upstream sites. Credit: Avner Vengosh, Duke University

The contamination is coming from the disposal of conventional, or non-fracked, oil and gas wastewater, which, under current state regulations, can still be treated and discharged to local streams.

"It’s not only fracking fluids that pose a risk; produced water from conventional, or non-fracked, oil and gas wells also contains high levels of radium, which is a radioactive element. Disposal of this wastewater causes an accumulation of radium on the stream sediments that decays over time and converts into other radioactive elements," said Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

The level of radiation found in stream sediments at the disposal sites was about 650 times higher than radiation in upstream sediments. In some cases, it even exceeded the radioactivity level that requires disposal only at federally designated radioactive waste disposal sites. "Our analysis confirms that this accumulation of radioactivity is derived from the disposal of […]

More about fracking waste and water:

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Oil and gas wastewater radioactivity persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments

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5 Million Gallons of Freshwater Used to Frack Just One Well

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Oil and gas wastewater radioactivity persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments
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Oil and gas wastewater radioactivity persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments
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The level of radiation found in stream sediments at the disposal sites was about 650 times higher than radiation in upstream sediments. In some cases, it even exceeded the radioactivity level that requires disposal only at federally designated radioactive waste disposal sites.
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Phys.org
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