HARRISBURG – State Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 of Clearfield County, has announced that he will be introducing legislation aimed at ensuring Pennsylvania’s drinking water remains free of radioactive material.
“A Feb. 27 article in the New York Times determines that there is a lack of radiation testing at 65 public water intakes downstream from releases of Marcellus drilling wastewater,” George said. “This is unacceptable, and I intend to correct this perceived problem as soon as possible.”
George said that besides dozens of chemicals, salts and chlorides, drilling wastewater that returns to the surface may contain naturally occurring radioactive material – NORM – which may pose a risk for the public if the wastewater is not properly treated to remove the hazard.
“According to another New York Times article, an early draft of a 2004 study by the Environmental Protection Agency discussed potentially dangerous levels of contamination in hydrofracking fluids and mentioned ‘possible evidence’ of contamination of an aquifer,” George said.
“The final version of the report excluded these points, concluding instead that hydrofracking ‘poses little or no threat to drinking water,’” George said. “EPA documents, available on the Times website, indicate EPA officials also were considering a moratorium on hydrofracking.”
The final report was softened considerably due to industry and political pressure, according to an EPA whistleblower who spoke to the New York Times.
Both the acting Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection and his predecessor have indicated that radiation testing of this water is worthy of consideration.
The bill would mandate additional testing both before and after treatment, but always before it is released into waterways used for drinking supplies. The testing would be paid for by the gas companies but performed by independent and certified water-testing companies.
“I am currently seeking co-sponsors for my legislation and anticipate introducing the measure soon,” George said. “This is not what people want to think of in terms of ‘hot water.’”