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DEP Hits Back Against NYT Radioactivity Claims

By Nicole Houck, Contributing Writer

The Department of Environmental Protection wasted no time disproving the allegations of a recent New York Times article regarding possible water contamination in Pennsylvania. Good news for Pennsylvanians: our water is not radioactive.

The results of tests conducted in November and December 2010 showed normal or below normal levels of naturally occurring levels of radioactivity in effluent from the hydraulic fracturing process with Marcellus shale. The DEP performed such tests in water sources downstream of Marcellus waste water treatment plants. These results come from raw water sources before they enter public water supply facilities where the water receives further treatment.

Rivers that were tested include the Monongahela at Charleroi in Washington County; South Fork Ten Mile Creek in Greene County; Conemaugh in Indiana County; Allegheny at Kennerdell in Venango County; Beaver in Beaver County; Tioga in Tioga County; and the West Branch of the Susquehanna in Lycoming County.

“We deal in facts based on sound science,” said acting DEP secretary Michael Krancer.

“We deal in facts based on sound science,” said Michael Krancer, the DEP’s acting Secretary. “Here are the facts: all samples were at or below background levels of radioactivity; and all samples showed levels below the federal drinking water standard for Radium 226 and 228.”

John Hanger, former Secretary of the DEP and environment blogger, has had much to say on the validity of the NYT article.

“These results also are another blow to credibility of the New York Times February 27th story that was deliberately false. The story had a fictional narrative of lax regulation and oversight of gas drilling in Pennsylvania. It also gratuitously frightened Pennsylvanians by suggesting that their water was contaminated with radioactive materials and unsafe,” Hanger blogged.

“Instead of good journalism, the NYT went for drama and scandal and created ironically both in the February 27th article itself.  The basic method of the piece was to exclude  from the main article discussion of the many, many strong oversight actions taken by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection,” Hanger wrote.

Fortunately, it looks like the facts disprove the NYT article: our water is not radioactive. Unfortunately for all those comic book fans out there, it doesn’t look like our drinking water will be giving Pennsylvanians any Spiderman-esque superpowers anytime soon.

March 9th, 2011 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg | 2 Comments

2 thoughts on “DEP Hits Back Against NYT Radioactivity Claims”

  1. Susan says:

    So, Michael Krancer wouldn’t mind drinking water just downstream from a municipal water supply that “treats” frack water???

  2. dhmeiser says:

    I obtained the data The PA DEP is basing their conclusions upon, it is only 11 measurements of 6 locations, with a maximum of 3 readings from any single location. The data was collected from 11/3/2010 to 12/20/2010! That is a piss poor amount of data to base any conclusion on this issue their data is severely lacking in quantity and quality for a public health issue such as this!

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