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New York Times; E.P.A. Steps Up Scrutiny of Pollution in Pennsylvania Rivers

March 9, 2011

“Radioactivity levels are ‘at or below’ safe levels in Pennsylvania rivers, state regulators said on Monday, based on water samples taken last November and December from seven rivers.”

But there is an increased call and pressure for more consistent monitoring of Pennsylvania’s rivers, streams, and treatment plants.  As long as unconventional gas drilling waste is being created and dumped, the need for testing is real.

“Lisa Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment last Thursday that she was heading to Pennsylvania that week and planned to order testing at treatment plants and drinking-water intakes. On Friday, Ms. Jackson contacted the governor’s office to discuss oversight concerns but has not received a response, a person familiar with the agency’s efforts said.”

“At least two water companies, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and the Pennsylvania American Water Company, announced that they had begun voluntarily testing for radioactivity.”

“Conrad Volz, director of the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities at the University of Pittsburgh said, ‘there needs to be monitoring weekly at least for a whole host of contaminants, including radium, barium, strontium.’  Mr. Volz said that he planned to release on Wednesday the results of water monitoring conducted by his team last December on wastewater discharged from a sewage treatment plant into the Blacklick River.  He said he did not test for radioactivity. But he did test for bromides, strontium, chlorides and other contaminants, and he said he found dangerous levels sometimes more than 10,000 times the safe drinking-water standard.”

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