Daily Archives: March 13, 2015

Hydraulic Fracturing Found to Not Increase Radionuclides in Groundwater; MCLs Met

Andrew W. Nelson, Andrew W. Knight, Eric S. Eitrheim, Michael K. Schultz. Monitoring radionuclides in subsurface drinking water sources near unconventional drilling operations: a pilot study. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. Volume 142, April 2015, Pages 24–28 doi:10.1016/j.jenvrad.2015.01.004

Unconventional drilling (the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling) to extract oil and natural gas is expanding rapidly around the world. The rate of expansion challenges scientists and regulators to assess the risks of the new technologies on drinking water resources. One concern is the potential for subsurface drinking water resource contamination by naturally occurring radioactive materials co-extracted during unconventional drilling activities. Given the rate of expansion, opportunities to test drinking water resources in the pre- and post-fracturing setting are rare. This pilot study investigated the levels of natural uranium, lead-210, and polonium-210 in private drinking wells within 2000 m of a large-volume hydraulic fracturing operation – before and approximately one-year following the fracturing activities. Observed radionuclide concentrations in well waters tested did not exceed maximum contaminant levels recommended by state and federal agencies. No statistically-significant differences in radionuclide concentrations were observed in well-water samples collected before and after the hydraulic fracturing activities. Expanded monitoring of private drinking wells before and after hydraulic fracturing activities is needed to develop understanding of the potential for drinking water resource contamination from unconventional drilling and gas extraction activities.

Click here for paper (Open Access).

Japan Moves Toward Coal-Fired Power Plants

“Japan is continuing to re-embrace coal to make up for its lack of nuclear energy, with plans for another power station released Thursday bringing the number of new coal-fired plants announced this year to seven.” click here