Since at least 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has allowed 14 sewage waste treatment plants to leak radioactive fracking waste into 13 Pennsylvania waterways, according to an investigation by Public Herald.
When the Pennsylvania landfills accept fracking waste, radioactive materials pulled from the earth’s core — some of which are carcinogens — contaminate the landfill leachate. Duke University’s Avner Vengosh told Public Herald that because sewage plants cannot treat the radioactive material, they release it into waterways instead.
“Sanitary landfills are no place for drilling wastes that contain toxic metals, organics, and radioactive materials,” John Stolz of Duquesne University told Public Herald. “The leachate from these landfills is so toxic it kills the microbes whose job it is to treat it.”
Public Herald’s investigation estimates that between 500 million to 1.6 billion gallons of leachate could be released into Pennsylvania rivers per year. — By Rachael Kelley