Appalachian Basin

Testing of Tenmile Creek Shows No Elevated Radioactivity

After an extensive six-month investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the agency has concluded that there is no indication of any elevated radioactivity in Tenmile Creek. According to John Stefanko, DEP Executive Deputy Secretary for Programs:

“Ultimately, there were no surprises in the environmental samples we took. The radiological results were in line with expected background radiation readings. The non-radiological samples were consistent with what we regularly see in flooded underground mines in this region.”

The DEP retested Tenmile Creek after their 2014 sampling showed higher than normal radioactivity in the creek. According to the agency:

“The original 2014 samples used a basic methodology that provides a limited sensitivity for naturally occurring radioactive materials. The 2015 samples were analyzed using U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved methodologies for determining radium-226 and radium-228 in water, plants, soil, or fish. The 2015 water samples were taken when the average daily stream flows within the watershed were at near normal flow conditions.”

The DEP water sampling was conducted at 12 locations on the North and South Forks of Tenmile creek, the Monongahela River, the Clyde Mine Treatment Facility, and the Tri-county Joint Municipal Water Authority. The testing was also expanded to include water, sediment, sludge, soil, aquatic vegetation, and fish.


Testing at all 12 locations echoed similar results from prior water testing with the DEP concluding:

The laboratory analysis did not indicate elevated radiological levels within any of the sampled environmental media.  They appear to be consistent with expected naturally occurring background values for similar media.  The non‐radiological results are also consistent with similar conditions associated with a flooded mine in this area of Pennsylvania.” (emphasis added)

As EID previously highlighted, Tenmile Creek and the DEP testing came under scrutiny when the anti-fracking Izaak Walton League of America’s (IWLA) local chapter claimed that wastewater was being dumped into the creek. Ken Dufalla, president of the IWLA local chapter was quoted in a PublicSource article, stating:

“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.”

After this third round of testing on Tenmile Creek– with all testing yielding similar results – we can finally put these bizarre claims about hydraulic fracturing wastewater being dumped in the creek to rest and residents living in the area can ease their minds knowing that the water in the creek does not contain high levels of radioactivity.

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