Nuclear Power vs. Gas — Danger on Both Sides

Radiation Warning SymbolWere you scared by today’s report about radioactive contamination of Tokyo’s drinking water? Then how do you feel about radioactive gas drilling waste being discharged into rivers that feed drinking water supplies in the U.S.?

It’s happening in Pennsylvania, in broad daylight, as reported in The New York Times. And no one has yet done anything to stop it (though the EPA is finally investigating it).

The toxic wastewater comes from horizontal fracking operations used by gas companies to get at formerly inaccessible gas deposits buried deep within the ground. They send it off to sewage treatment plants that are not required to test for radioactive contaminants — and do not remove them — before discharging the water into rivers. Neither are drinking-water intake plants located downstream required to test for radioactive elements before sending the water on to people’s homes.

How can this be? The gas industry has secured exemptions from the Safe Drinking Water Act and other important federal environmental laws. So much of the regulation and policing is left to the states, where underfinancing, understaffing and overly cosy relationships with the industry are compromising public safety.

And not just in Pennsylvania either. Residents in Wyoming, Colorado and Texas, among other places, are also suffering from water contamination and air pollution resulting from fracking.

So, watch out for the big push to gas likely to come in response to Japan’s nuclear disaster. Gas is only preferable to nuclear power if it is regulated properly and produced safely. Currently, neither is the case.

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One Response to Nuclear Power vs. Gas — Danger on Both Sides

  1. blazini August 28, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    some of the chemicals in the fracking solution are radiocative and a small amoun of this solution is used in the fracking process

    while the cheapest way is to frack there are other ways to access the gas, namely horizontal and verticle drilling, this requires no radioactive materials.

    the problem lies with the branch of the government which allows these companies to exploit this gas for the cheapest cost possible, not taking into consideration the environmental consequences.

    until we can find a way to make solar panels more efficient and from more readily available raw materials, gas will play an imporant role as a transition fuel.