New Tests Confirm Marcellus Development Not Impacting Pa. Waterways

Canonsburg, PA – This week, Pennsylvania American Water – one of the commonwealth’s largest water utilities – released data determining that its water has “not been impacted by radioactive materials” from Marcellus Shale development and the water is safe to drink. As you may recall, the New York Times made a series of claims regarding the impact Marcellus development is having on drinking water — the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Philadelphia Inquirer even used the Times’ questionable reporting as a foundation for editorials.

While the facts do not support many of the claims put forth by the New York Times (Gov. Ed Rendell and former PA DEP Sec. John Hanger agree), this new scientific data brings further clarity to the question of water quality being responsibly balanced with Marcellus development. Here are key excerpts from Pennsylvania American Water’s findings:

No Detectable Levels of Radiological Contaminants or Volatile
Organic Compounds Found at Intakes

Following a full battery of tests at Pennsylvania American Water’s raw water intakes along the Allegheny, Clarion and Monongahela Rivers and Two Lick Creek, in Indiana, PA, the company found no elevated or harmful levels of radiological contaminants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or inorganic compounds (IOCs). The results confirmed that the quality of the water supplied by Pennsylvania American Water’s treatment plants has not been impacted by radioactive materials, VOCs or IOCs from Marcellus Shale drilling wastewater.

Some newspapers and outlets responsibly informed their readers of this new, fact-based information, helping to set the record straight.

  • “Pennsylvania American Says Its Water Shows No Radioactivity”. “A battery of tests showed no radioactive contaminants in the water used and produced locally by Pennsylvania American Water, which serves about 222,000 customers in Western Pennsylvania, the company announced yesterday. “The company performed extra tests throughout March in reaction to media reports that questioned whether the expanding Marcellus shale gas drilling industry was putting radioactive chemicals into public water. The tests showed the company’s water supply and the drinking water it produces have not been affected by radioactive chemicals from shale drilling, the company said.”  (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 5/17/11)
  • “PA Water Company Says No Radioactivity”. Pennsylvania American Water reports no elevated or harmful levels of radioactive contaminants, or volatile organic or inorganic compounds at its Southwestern Pennsylvania raw water intakes.  “The results confirmed the quality of the water supplied by Pennsylvania American Water’s treatment plants has not been impacted by radioactive materials, VOCs or IOCs from Marcellus Shale drilling wastewater.” (Gas Business Briefing, 5/18/11)
  • “Pennsylvania Water Utility Doesn’t Find Pollution From Natural Gas Drilling”. “Several tests of western Pennsylvania river water prompted by fears of contamination from the state’s rapidly growing natural gas drilling industry didn’t turn up elevated or harmful levels of radioactivity or other pollutants not routinely monitored, a private water utility said Monday.”  (Associated Press, 5/16/11)
  • “Pa. Water Utility Doesn’t Find Drilling Pollution”. “The Pennsylvania American Water Co. said its tests showed that its water quality complies with federal and states standards. State regulators have previously said that tests from samples they collected in November through February of water downriver from western Pennsylvania treatment plants raised no red flags for radioactivity. (Associated Press, 5/16/11)


NOTE
: The following publications posted and/or published the Associated Press story: Centre Daily Times, Forbes, MSNBC, CNBC, Harrisburg Patriot-News, Beaver County Times, Houston Chronicle, Bloomberg, Hamilton Journal-News, Westport News, Albany Times Union, Beaumont Enterprise, The Evening Sun, San Antonio Express-News, The Express-Times, USA Today, Lebanon Daily News, Australia News, York Dispatch, Yahoo News.

NOTE II: While the Philadelphia Inquirer has published multiple stories on this subject — along with a 435 word editorial based on the debunked New York Times story — the paper only found 60 words in their “Business News in Brief” section for this fact-based analysis.

NOTE III: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which dedicated over 750 words in a headline story and 465 words on the editorial page to the original Times story, barely mentioned these test results – giving one short paragraph to the matter in an otherwise unrelated news story. All this, despite the fact that Pennsylvania American Water has an office just 15 miles away from the paper’s newsroom and thousands in their coverage area receive drinking water from this utility.