Appalachian Basin

*Update* Ten Mile Creek Testing Results Show Very Low Radiation Levels

UPDATE (8/27/15; 4:30 pm ET): The West Virginia University Water Research Institute (WVWRI) has just released more water quality results from Ten Mile Creek, and once again the levels of radiation are low, falling well below the drinking water limit. In an effort to ensure that the results from previous tests were representative of the creek’s true water quality, WVWRI repeated water testing in the creek six times over a two week period beginning in late July. According to the newest report:

Data showed that the highest minimum detectable concentration (MDC) of alpha radiation was 2.95 pCi/L while the drinking water limit is 5 pCi/L. The reported values averaged 0.74pCi/L.”

The newest and more exhaustive testing falls in line with previous results found last month and also expands the scope.  New in these latest results were samples taken for barium and strontium, which are heavy metals sometimes found in Marcellus Shale waste water. According to Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of WVWRI,

The Clyde mine discharge had zero barium and only 6.6 milligrams per liter of strontium.”

Interestingly, this data also comes as anti-fracking groups are criticizing the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) for its June water sampling of Ten Mile Creek.  Despite those results not yet being released, Patrick Grenter, executive director of the Center for Coalfield Justice stated:

“DEP’s recent sampling of Ten Mile Creek flies in the face of common sense and reveals a disturbing lack of seriousness that is dismissive of the community in Greene County and the significance of this situation.”

Ken Dufalla of the Izaak Walton League of America’s (IWLA) local chapter also commented on the PADEP tests results that are expected in the next couple of weeks, but haven’t been released. Dufalla called them a joke, stating:

“We are not going to accept these results.”

In the meantime, these latest WVWRI results continue to be promising for residents living in the area, regardless of the activists’ desires to try and twist the facts to suit their anti-fracking agendas.


— Original Post July 27, 2015 —

Greene County’s Ten Mile Creek has been a topic of conversation here in Southwestern Pennsylvania after the Washington County Observer Reporter ran this article by PublicSource, which was also reprinted in the Observer Reporter. The article references an April 2014 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) study that showed elevated levels of radiation in the creek, which is downstream from an abandoned coal mine. However, a new study from the West Virginia University Water Research Institute (WVWRI) has found little radiation in Ten Mile Creek.

The newest Ten Mile Creek study by WVWRI was conducted on June 25, 2015 and was analyzed by Pace Analytical Services, a state-certified lab in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.  If found that radium was no higher than 0.75 pCi/L, well below the drinking water standard of 5 pCi/L set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Other findings from the June 25th study included:

  • No levels exceeding federal Safe Drinking Water Act Limits
  • Fractional Radium 226 levels at a Smith Creek tributary and at Ten Mile Creek at Sugar Camp Road.
  • Only miniscule Radium 228 levels at all four texting sites.

Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of WVWRI had this to say about the study’s results:

“Pace Analytical used the USEPA recommended methods for determining radium in drinking water, so our results should be highly reliable.”

The WVWRI became involved in testing Ten Mile Creek after being contacted by Ken Dufalla, president of the Izaak Walton League of America’s (IWLA) local chapter. The IWLA chapter recently held a meeting where they discussed the results from a previous PADEP study that was conducted in April 2014, which found higher radium readings.  PublicSource quoted Dufalla extensively in the article:

“Without an answer from officials, Dufalla said he and members of his group are left to form their own conclusions.

Somebody, they believe, must be dumping wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, a technique used to extract natural gas from deep underground and known as fracking, into coal mines.”

Bizarre accusations aside, the science just doesn’t add up. The PADEP has since re-visited Ten Mile Creek for another round of water testing. According to a recent Observer Reporter article:

“The state agency conducted testing at 13 separate sites on June 22 and 23 that collected nearly three-dozen samples of water, soil, foliage and aquatic life along the creek.”

According to PADEP spokesman, John Poister, the results from their latest Ten Mile Creek tests are due out at the end of August or early September. The recent results from WVWRI are the first of the exhaustive testing planned for Ten Mile Creek, but initial results are promising for residents living in the region.

Marcellus Shale development continues to be a heavily regulated industry and one that is creating jobs across Southwestern Pennsylvania and the entire Commonwealth.

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