Appalachian Basin

(UPDATE!!) Truth and Sputtering

Steuben County, New York, is facing some controversy over a county landfill taking Marcellus Shale drill cuttings. Here is an article from earlier this year detailing some of the issues which largely center on misunderstandings about the radioactivity of Marcellus drill cuttings, improper protocols, and false studies The forum last night, held in Bath, NY, gave the public the opportunity to present questions concerning the safe disposal of drill cuttings in the landfill.  Needless to say, this didn’t end the debate!

The two speakers were Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, a physicist and Senior Associate at Radioactive Management Associates, and Vincent Spagnoletti, Commissioner of the Steuben County DPW (pictured above).

Dr.  Resnikoff is well known for his reports on the radioactivity of the Marcellus Shale and the health and environmental risks. But recently, he has come under heavy scrutiny by his peers for holes in his work.  Here is the conclusion from a critique of his work by his some of his peers :

Resnikoff has not demonstrated that he has sufficient training or experience in health physics (or any other scientific discipline) to properly analyze the impact of placing Marcellus shale cuttings in a landfill. It is particularly noteworthy that Resnikoff’s radiation dose calculations and health physics opinions have been rejected by both a federal and state court.

His dose calculations in this instance are based upon his mischaracterization of Marcellus shale cuttings and misuse of available data. He relies upon relatively weak information (e.g., a poor-quality gamma ray log which he simply assumes to be representative of Marcellus shale), which he misinterprets, and essentially ignores more reliable evidence (e.g., the actual measurements of radioactivity in the shale cuttings collected by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation).

The hypothetical resident farmer’s dose that Resnikoff calculates is based upon absurd assumptions, including the production of fruits, vegetables and wheat from a field of infertile shale. Resnikoff misrepresents the health effects of radium inhalation and ingestion. He concedes that his radium detection calculations are wrong by a factor of 1,000. In sum, Resnikoff opinions are not reliable and they should be rejected.

*Source: A Critique of the Radioactive Waste Management Associates’ “Radioactivity in Marcellus Shale” Report, Ralph H. Johnson.

After reading the conclusion from that critique, its easy to understand why he had a very hard time quantifying the health effects of the above average RADON levels in a typical home of Steuben County to the average RADON levels of the county landfill.


The presentation given by Vincent Spagnoletti really stole the show. Anti-Marcellus groups often criticize any sciences dealing with the Marcllus for not being truthful, croupt, or peer-reviewed. Spagnoletti, with no uncertainty, proved to the tenth degree that drill cuttings from the Marcellus Shale are safe by citing reports and studies from National Laboratories, DEC and others.



UPDATE: We just received two reports that illustrate the truth Resnikoff wouldn’t speak and makes a mockery of what he did say:


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