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The new water test findings were announced last week as the state Department of Environmental Protection continues to investigate radiation levels in Ten Mile Creek, a Monongahela River tributary in southern Washington County, and several abandoned mine discharges in the area. DEP tests done in April 2014 but released only last month in response to a citizen’s Right-to-Know request found radium at levels up to 60 times higher than allowed by federal drinking water standards.
The water research institute testing, conducted on June 25 of this year, did not support the DEP’s 2014 findings of widespread radiation contamination, except for the Clyde Mine discharge, which also contained high levels for bromides. Shale gas drilling wastewater often contains high concentrations of bromides, salts and other dissolved solids as well as natural radioactive elements picked up during the drilling and hydraulic fracturing of shale formations deep underground.
“There’s something going on there that’s not right,” said Paul Ziemkiewicz, a mine drainage expert and director of the water research institute. “The radiation, together with higher bromide levels than you would expect to see coming out of a deep mine, point to drilling wastewater. It’s something that’s worth continuing to take a look at.”
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