Bromide down in Mon, still elevated in Allegheny
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say a water quality problem in the Monongahela River that may have been linked to Marcellus shale natural gas drilling is going away.
Bromide, which can cause cancer in drinking water, has declined in the Mon, apparently coinciding with a voluntary ban on disposing gas drilling wastewater, researcher Jeanne VanBriesen said Thursday. State officials cited her research in asking for the ban in the spring of 2011.
However, success has not been universal in Western Pennsylvania, said Melissa Rubin, spokeswoman at the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority. Its scientists have still found elevated levels of bromide in the Allegheny River, the authority's source for its drinking water, she said.
“The pollution in the Allegheny River is just as bad as it always was,” Rubin said. “So although this is a wonderful thing for the utilities that pull water from the Mon River, that's just simply not — unfortunately — it's not the case for those that pull from the Allegheny.”
Though not considered a pollutant by themselves, bromides combine with the chlorine used in water treatment to produce compounds that can cause cancer.
Preliminary data from this year showed that levels of salty bromides have declined significantly in the Monongahela when compared to 2010 and 2011, VanBriesen said. In many cases the bromides were at undetectable levels in the river this year, and in general they returned to background, or normal levels.
VanBriesen and some local water authorities first noticed a spike in the summer of 2010, sparking an investigation from state environmental regulators. After they asked drillers and public wastewater treatment plants to stop dumping their partially treated wastewater into surface water in 2011, bromide levels didn't initially go down, VanBriesen had said a year ago, before her latest findings.
That had led to drilling companies and power plants — both of which can produce bromide as waste — to deny they were responsible.
Trib Total Media staff writer Timothy Puko and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.