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Fri Nov 9, 2012, 11:30 AM

Fracking and a Radioactive Silvery-White Monster: Radium Must be Left in the Earth

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/11/09-3



Fracking for gas not only uses toxic chemicals that can contaminate drinking and groundwater -- it also releases substantial quantities of radioactive poison from the ground that will remain hot and deadly for thousands of years.


ssuing a report yesterday exposing major radioactive impacts of hydraulic fracturing known as fracking -- was Grassroots Environmental Education, an organization in New York, where extensive fracking is proposed.

The Marcellus Shale region which covers much of upstate New York is seen as loaded with gas that can be released through the fracking process. It involves injecting fluid and chemicals under high pressure to fracture shale formations and release the gas captured in them.

But also released, notes the report, is radioactive material in the shale including Radium-226 with a half-life of 1,600 years. A half-life is how long it takes for a radioactive substance to lose half its radiation. It is multiplied by between 10 and 20 to determine the “hazardous lifetime” of a radioactive material, how long it takes for it to lose its radioactivity. Thus Radium-226 remains radioactive for between 16,000 and 32,000 years.

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Reply Fracking and a Radioactive Silvery-White Monster: Radium Must be Left in the Earth (Original post)
xchrom Nov 2012 OP
GitRDun Nov 2012 #1
eppur_se_muova Nov 2012 #2
xchrom Nov 2012 #3
pscot Nov 2012 #6
caraher Nov 2012 #4
caraher Nov 2012 #5

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 11:58 AM

1. Lol bbbbut I thought

the Exxon guy on TV said these were "self contained well systems"!

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 12:32 PM

2. NOT a surprise to people in the drilling industry ...

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #2)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 02:10 PM

3. Wow. That does give 1 pause. Nt

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Response to xchrom (Reply #3)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 10:35 PM

6. If only Aubrey McClendon were given pause

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 05:31 PM

4. I wish there were some numbers...

But I guess that's part of Mr. White's beef, which has two main parts. The first is that the 1999 study doesn't reflect actual fracking practices in a way that underestimates the contact between the fracking fluid and underground contaminants. It's not clear whether this would be by something like a factor of two or more like a factor of ten or a hundred.

The second part is a bit muddy. The basic claim is clear enough: the software used to make the estimates ignored certain mechanisms by which contaminants may spread. But I couldn't make out from White's paper exactly which ones those were, or how much effect those should have on the analysis.

The report itself is on the Grassroots Environmental Education web page. It's really a call for a careful analysis rather than a study.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 06:07 PM

5. Is the NY DEC study being used to argue fracking is safe?

The report White criticizes is available through the New York DEC web site (which includes a link to a .pdf of the full report).

The scope of that study seems to be assessment of risks associated with oil and gas extraction methods that have been used in the past. The software used to estimate impacts is intended for use in environmental cleanup work. But I think the most important question is essentially unanswerable without a lot of research: how much more radium would one expect using fracking than the old methods? It could be a LOT more. I think White is correct that the 1999 study isn't really applicable to the new situation.

At the same time, I wonder whether this is a straw man on some level. Is industry citing the 1999 study to dismiss any concerns about contamination from NORM (naturally-occurring radioactive materials)?

I suspect that this is the least of many excellent reasons to oppose fracking.

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