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Pennsylvania Water Company Finds No Marcellus Impact

A major Pennsylvania water company said "a full battery of tests" found no harmful impact on supplies from Marcellus Shale development.

Pennsylvania American Water Co. sampled raw water intakes along the Allegheny, Clarion and Monongahela Rivers, as well as Two Lick Creek in Indiana, Pa. -- all in the Pittsburgh area -- but found "no elevated or harmful levels" of radiological contaminants, volatile organic compounds (VOC) or inorganic compounds (IOC).

"The results confirmed that the quality of water supplied by Pennsylvania American Water's treatment plants has not been impacted by radioactive materials, VOCs or IOCs from Marcellus Shale drilling wastewater," the company said.

The testing found "no detectable levels" of six radioactive contaminants and 22 VOCs and "levels well within compliance standards" for 32 IOCs.

Pennsylvania American Water, at the request of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), also sampled finished drinking water at three sites in late March for total alkalinity, bromide, chloride, pH, total dissolved solids, uranium, gross alpha radiation, radium-226 and radium-228 and said the results were "within all acceptable water quality standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the DEP."

Pennsylvania American Water, which provides water for more than 200,000 customers in Allegheny, Washington and Fayette counties, launched the tests following a New York Times article claiming that radioactive Marcellus wastewater threatened drinking water (see Shale Daily, March 3).

Following the article, the DEP released test results showing radioactivity at or below "background levels" in seven Pennsylvania rivers (see Shale Daily, March 8). The DEP conducted the tests in November and December downstream from facilities that treat flowback and produced water from Marcellus drilling operations, sampling raw river water before it entered the intakes for public water suppliers, like Pennsylvania American Water.

Those companies treat the water again before delivering it to the public.

The DEP is still waiting for results from tests ordered in mid-March from 14 public water suppliers located downstream from facilities that treat Marcellus wastewater and 25 treatment facilities that accept Marcellus wastewater (see Shale Daily, April 12). Since calling for those tests, the DEP asked operators to voluntarily stop delivering Marcellus wastewater to local treatment facilities by May 19 (see Shale Daily, April 20).

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