Wastewater from fracking is often highly radioactive

unconventional wells is not being discharged into waterways, (and) recycling of unconventional flowback and brines has never been higher,” Poister added.

He also said most of the industry’s fracking wastewater is reused to frack more wells, but Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus campaign coordinator for Clean Water Action, does not believe Poister.

“I can’t say for certain that there are plants definitely taking wastewater and discharging it,” Hvozdovich told the Standard. “Certainly there are discharges happening from facilities that raise concerns, especially among the upper Allegheny (River).” Hvozdovich declined to identify specific facilities.

“Is it possible they are taking natural gas wastewater?” Hvozdovich added. “Yes, but I don’t know that for a fact.”

Poister does admit that some fracking could end up in waterways.

“It can, but that would be a rarity,” Poister told the Standard. “We believe most wastewater is recycled, and the data on the statewide waste reports bears that out. Drillers would have to pay to have the water treated for discharge into waterways, (so) it’s more cost-efficient for them to recycle. There is some wastewater from other drilling activities and other sources that is discharged after treating, which is why under the state’s Clean Water Act, Pennsylvania’s DEP issues National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits to treatment facilities.”

The Standard notes that one of the biggest issues and a reason why wastewater could end up in waterways is the differences between the way radioactive fracking waste is treated and radioactive nuclear waste is treated.

NRC’s regulations require that every drop of water and every molecule of air discharged from a plant be monitored for radiation,” Dave Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists told the Standard after reading White’s report. “If high levels are detected, plants must be able to terminate the release to keep discharges within federal limits. And owners must submit annual reports to the NRC that detail every curie of various radioisoptes released to the environment.”

The gas and oil industry do not fall under these restrictions. Many feel the issue of radioactive fracking wastewater has been a problem since fracking started.

“A lot of research and technology has gone into developing the current oil and gas development techniques, so it doesn’t make sense that we have so many unknowns when it comes to the radioactive content of the waste and its proper disposal,” Adam Kron, a lawyer for Environmental Integrity Project told the Standard.