Based on current data, regulations and industry practices, there is no indication that the public or workers in the oil and gas industry face health risks from exposure to radiation from these materials. The study is aimed at ensuring that public health and the environment continue to be protected.
“Pennsylvania is setting the bar for responsible shale gas development, and the study of radiation issues in oil and gas development is yet another example of that,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “Not only do we in Pennsylvania operate with scientific rigor, we do so with unmatched transparency. These plans show exactly how we are conducting this study.”
On Jan. 24, Gov. Corbett directed DEP to undertake a comprehensive study examining naturally occurring levels of radioactivity in byproducts associated with oil and gas development. Since then, the agency sought a peer review of its sampling and quality assurance plans and expects to begin sampling this month.
The sampling plan outlines the types of samples DEP will collect, their locations and the methods for analyzing them. The quality assurance plan provides specifics on how the agency will collect, transport and analyze the samples.
DEP will collect and analyze drill cuttings, flowback fluid and drilling mud for a variety of radioactive particles. Staff will also examine compressor stations, storage tanks, trucks, drill rigs and wastewater treatment facilities.
DEP routinely reviews radioactivity data in wastes that the drilling industry and other industries generate, and the information obtained to date indicates very low levels of natural radioactivity. The agency also maintains a statewide monitoring network to protect the public from exposure to unsafe levels of radiation.
For more information and to view the plans, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click the “Oil and Gas Development Radiation Study” banner at the top of the homepage.