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Hydraulic Fracturing Radiological Concerns for Ohio

June 13, 2013. Melissa Belcher, M.S. and Marvin Resnikoff, Ph.D. Radioactive Waste Management Associates


It is a known fact that the Marcellus and Utica shale formations are radioactive, with concentrations of radium-226 that are up to 30 times background[1]. In the process of drilling and fracturing wells (fracking) in shale formations, to produce natural gas, this underground radioactivity is brought to the surface, but where does it go?

Oil and gas companies, along with the State agencies they’ve bamboozled, would have you believe any radioactivity present in waste streams is either within regulatory limits, not within the jurisdiction of State governments to regulate, or non-existent. Translation 1: the radium-226 in Marcellus shale inexplicably disappears when it is brought to the surface. Translation 2: the oil and gas industry does not want to pay the true costs of transporting, managing or disposing the radioactive waste they are producing.

In this fact sheet, we want to cut through this murky haze that is settling over Ohio. We will explore the situation at the Patriot water treatment plant in Warren, OH, solid waste disposal in landfills, the potential impact of fracking near public drinking water supplies, specifically near the Muskingum River Watershed, the safety of transporting waste liquids and solids from Pennsylvania and other states to Ohio via trucks, rail and barges and the potential costs of proper disposal.


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