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Public water safe from radioactivity throughout region

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By Timothy Puko
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A battery of tests has showed no radioactive contaminants in the water used and produced at 12 of 14 drinking water suppliers in Western Pennsylvania, according to state environmental regulators.

Wastewater treatment plants and drinking water suppliers performed extra tests throughout March, reacting to media reports that questioned whether an increase in Marcellus shale drilling had led to the introduction of radioactive chemicals into public water.

Industry spokesmen said the negative tests are further proof this isn't happening and that water is safe.

Of the 12 drinking water suppliers, only The Tri-County Joint Municipal Authority in Fredericktown reported any traces of radium-228 at all, and it was 80 percent below the maximum amount allowed, said Katy Gresh, spokeswoman at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The department is still pursuing test results from two other suppliers, the Carmichaels and Newell municipal authorities, she added.

"These test results are confirmation that safe, clean drinking water and responsible shale gas development can and do coexist," said Patrick Creighton, spokesman at the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

Only six of the 14 drinking water plants submitted test results on dissolved solids and other secondary contaminants. Levels did meet pollution standards, Gresh said, noting the department still is pursuing the other results.

The state also has asked 25 wastewater treatment plants for results, which weren't immediately available.

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