A new report issued by Grassroots Environmental Education, a New York-based non-profit organization and authored by a former staff scientist for the National Council on Radiation Protection says that horizontal hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale region of New York State is likely to produce significantly higher amounts of radioactive waste than previously believed, putting New Yorkers in danger, and that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has not demonstrated the ability to properly analyze the potential impact of radiation exposure or take adequate steps to protect the public.
“Once radioactive material comes up out of the ground along with the gas, the problem is what to do with it,” says Doug Wood, associate director of Grassroots Environmental Education, who edited the report. “The radioactivity lasts for thousands of years, and it is virtually impossible to eliminate or mitigate. Sooner or later, it’s going to end up in our environment and eventually our food chain. It’s a problem with no good solution—and the DEC is unequipped to handle it.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to radium increases the risk of cancer. Radium also decays into radon, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
The report, Consideration of Radiation in Hazardous Waste Produced from Horizontal Hydrofracking, was authored by Ivan White, a career scientist with the congressionally-chartered National Council on Radiation Protection. There he helped develop computer programs for radiation risk assessment and assisted in the formulation of national policies on radiation protection for civilian and military personnel.