TRACING THE LEGACY OF ACCIDENTAL SPILLS AND RELEASES OF MARCELLUS WASTEWATER IN PENNSYLVANIA
In the months following the spill, major and trace element concentrations in the surface water were up to 100 times higher than background values. Concentrations of trace metals (Ni, Pb, Zn) were above chronic criterion continuous concentration (CCC) and criterion maximum concentration (CMC) values. The concentrations in the samples collected from the pond decrease over time with the lowest values recorded in samples collected in November 2011, however, the majority of concentrations are still elevated relative to background concentrations over a year following the spill.
Radium was retained in the sediments over a year following the spill at activities 2 and 30 times background for 228Ra and 226Ra, respectively. The sediment at the spill site also retained 228Ra/226Ra ratios (228Ra/226Ra <0.2) that are distinct from ratios observed in background sediment samples (228Ra/226Ra~1) and suggest that the source of the radium is Marcellus HFFF. Combined, these data indicate that accidental releases of HFFF into the environment can be distinguished from other sources of contamination and could pose potential environmental risks for long-term exposure to aquatic life.