Fracking Flowback Water: Radioactive Materials Are Picked Up From Brine Formed 4 Million Years Ago

A Penn State University study has found the chemical makeup of flow back water from fracking wells in the Marcellus Shale Region of Pennsylvania, concluding that the radio active materials picked up by the fracking water are from brines formed 4 millions years ago during the Paleozoic era. The water contained barium and radium which are radioactive materials found naturally 8,000 feet below the surface of the earth.

So elements deposited into the earth hundreds of millions of years ago are now  being picked up by the fracking fluid and brought to the surface.

“Even if it’s diluted quite a bit, it’s still going to be above the drinking water limits,”he said. “There’s been very little research into this.” Arthur W. Rose, one of the professors who did the study.

This brings about more concern to the flowback water. There has been very little studied on what the fracking water picks up while it is miles below the surface of the earth. These radioactive material are of great concern because once they reach the surface they become a hazard for humans and the environment especially if improperly disposed of.

0 replies
  1. doug
    doug says:

    What is WMEAC’s position on fracking? In the past I have heard that you are either supportive of it and/or opposed to any efforts to call for a statewide ban on fracking.

    Most of the recent news on fracking indicates that it’s worse than what was originally thought.

  2. Daniel Schoonmaker
    Daniel Schoonmaker says:

    Here is our position, as approved by our board of directors. There has been a good deal of misinformation lately on how support for a moratorium equates to opposition of a ban and/or support of fracking. We discuss that in a recent blog post here:

    High-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing poses known and still unknown threats to Michigan’s environment. WMEAC supports a moratorium on newly “fracked” wells until Michigan improves it’s regulatory protections and increases transparency. Additionally, more study is required in Michigan that accounts for our specific natural resources and geological formations.

    WMEAC supports energy efficiency and energy optimization efforts before new energy production, and even then seeks non fossil-fuel, clean energy production to meet Michigan’s currently stagnant energy demand. However, WMEAC is not ready to request a permanent ban on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, but instead calls for a delay in permitting for all new high-volume fracking operations (as defined by the DEQ).

  3. doug
    doug says:

    Thanks for clarifying. It’s disappointing to me that you are going this route. I have a hard time believing that supporting more study and more regulations is going to do anything, because it the oil and gas companies can just keep buying up the rights and going at it while we all wait around for the state to make some better rules. Even then the supposedly better regulations may very well fail, just as they did in the case highlighted in this blog post.

    Please consider going another route!


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