Hydraulic fracturing is the process of extracting oil and gas from under the ground by injecting water into the ground to break up rocks where hydrocarbons are trapped. While it may be an innovative, new way to use the untapped resources under the land, hydraulic fracturing has also been noted as a potentially dangerous practice.
A study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology this past Wednesday shows that researchers found high levels of radioactivity, metals, and salts in the water downstream from a fracking wastewater plant. This research was conducted in Blacklick Creek Pennsylvania at the Josephine Facility in rivers both upstream and downstream of the plant.
The Researchers' Findings
Scientists were shocked to discover the wastewater they tested had river sediments that contained 200 times more radium than mud. In fact, reports show the concentrations of radium were higher at this site than in some radioactive waste dumps.
The levels exceeded the minimum threshold that the federal government often uses to qualify a disposal site as a radioactive dump site. Radioactive water can even affect food sources as more and more fish swim in the radioactive water.
The research team involved with this study monitored sediments and river water both above and below the treatment plant for various contaminants and radioactivity. The scientists learned that downstream water often contained high levels of chloride, sulfate, and bromide. This was abundantly more radium than is present upstream of the plant.
The Dangers of Radioactive Material
Radium is the radioactive material found naturally in many rocks. Long-term exposure to large amounts of radium can cause dangerous health effects and can even lead to disease like leukemia. Bromide can reach with chlorine and the ozone as well to yield highly toxic byproducts as a result. There is no evidence that the bromide has created this dangerous chemical reaction yet, but scientists say that they want to continue monitoring the wastewater to see if this is a possibility. Both radium and bromide can harm human health and the environment in high concentrations.
How Fracking Causes Radioactive Material Exposure
Scientists claim the occurrence of radium in hydraulic fracturing wastewater is somewhat alarming. This is a significant health hazard for locals in the area. The wastewater is flow backwater that comes back to the surface from the underground after being injected into rocks in the fracking process.
Some of that water is then taken to treatment facilities where it is processed and then released into natural waterways. In some cases, the water is reused instead of released. While treatment facilities can often remove some of the contaminants in the water, they often can't remove certain salts like bromide. This study was increasingly helpful in confirming that the wastewater is what causes contamination of the streams in the event of fracking.
Hire Arnold & Itkin LLP to Represent You in Your Fracking Case
If you are dealing with a case regarding pollution or health dangers as a result of fracking, the injury attorneys at Arnold & Itkin LLP are here to help. If you want more information then don't hesitate to hire the firm today!