A Duke University study of sediments in Indiana County’s Blacklick Creek reportedly shows elevated levels of radioactivity, and the researchers blame it on fracking wastewater from the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility.
The study published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal claims radium levels were about 200 times greater downstream from the treatment plant than they were upstream. The measurements were taken between August of 2010 and November of 2012. The report contradicts other studies that have shown no effects from the discharge of treated fracking water, and Patrick Creighton of the Marcellus Shale Coalition says no Marcellus Shale water has been taken to the Josephine facility since May of 2011.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in May fined the plant’s operators, Fluid Recovery Services, $83,000 for discharge violations at Josephine and two other water treatment facilities, and ordered it to spend $30 million on upgrades to the plants before they can discharge more fracking wastewater. EPA says the plant has not discharged frackwater since September of 2011, but the Duke study claims its evidence shows the discharges were still going on in 2012, and says better monitoring is needed.
Fluid Recovery Services was formerly known as Hart Resource Technologies, based in Creekside. It was acquired this year by Aquatech International of Canonsburg, which operates in sixty countries.