Patience Needed with Ten Mile Creek Testing

Washington PA Observer-Reporter
10 August 2015

The revelation last month that testing performed by a West Virginia University research group showed radiation levels in Ten Mile Creek well below federal environmental standards should have come as a welcome relief to residents living in the Mon Valley.

Instead, it became a catalyst for more questions to be raised about how and, more importantly, when the testing samples were taken to determine if there is an issue with the creek that feeds into the Monongahela River between Clarksville and Fredericktown.

The Izaak Walton League environmental organization immediately dismissed the findings and then began questioning the unreleased results the state Department of Environmental Protection is preparing to make public later this month. The DEP and WVU research group both took samples in mid-June when the creek was flowing at a more voluminous rate than average, which the Izaak Walton League argues will ultimately dilute the findings.

There may be merit to that argument, but why are environmental advocates dismissing a test before even seeing the results?

The DEP took extensive samples at 13 separate sites June 22 and 23 by collecting nearly three-dozen samples of water, soil, foliage and aquatic life along the creek. This action was prompted after the DEP found elevated levels of radiation last year during less sophisticated testing.

The community is anxiously awaiting the results of these new tests to learn if the water, which feeds the Tri-County Water Authority along the Monongahela River, is safe for drinking and recreation. The two-month wait might be too long for some, but it is important that DEP does its due diligence and gets the most accurate results possible.

Regardless of the outcome, it would still be wise for the DEP and many other organizations that have a vested interest in the situation to continue testing Ten Mile Creek at different times of the year to ensure the most accurate results.

The community and local environmental leaders should remain vigilant and demand explanations regarding the testing results.

But the fact that the testing is being disputed before anyone even learns the results is disconcerting. Let’s wait and see what exactly the findings are before dissecting them.