DEP Final Report on Ten Mile Creek Indicates No Dangers of
Washington PA Observer-Reporter
2 December 2016
By Bob Niedbala
Follow-up testing conducted during the past year by the state
Department of Environmental Protection has confirmed previous
studies indicating radiological levels within safe limits in Ten
“The results from testing conducted throughout 2016 were similar
to those taken in 2015, at which time DEP concluded there was no
risk of radioactivity,” said John Stefanko, DEP executive deputy
secretary for programs. “The samples for this study were put
through rigorous testing and reached the same conclusions.”
DEP conducted extensive testing of the creek and of the wastewater
discharge of the Clyde Mine in June 2015 to determine whether
radioactive levels were above safe limits. This came after initial
samples taken by the agency in April 2014 had showed radiological
levels above normal background levels.
The December 2015 report indicated radiological levels within the
normal range, and DEP concluded that the initial, rudimentary
tests completed in April 2014 had used a methodology not accurate
enough to provide definitive conclusions.
An independent organization, West Virginia Water Research
Institute, also had tested samples in 2015 and found radioactive
levels well below federal regulations for safe drinking water.
Follow-up testing conducted this year by DEP involved sampling
water at the Clyde treatment plant and at one location in Ten Mile
Creek upstream from the plant and one location downstream from the
plant. Sludge at the plant generated as part of the treatment
process also was sampled. The sampling was conducted on Jan. 20,
April 19 and June 21.
All water samples were below the Environmental Protection Agency’s
drinking water limit of 5 picocuries per liter for radium-226 and
radium-228, the report said. “Any radiation that was detected was
consistent with background levels for southwest Pennsylvania,” it
DEP’s Bureau of Laboratories personnel conducted the radiological
analyses using several analytical methods. Water samples were
analyzed using radiochemistry extraction methods consistent with
In addition, water samples were analyzed using EPA-approved
methods for the same nonradiological parameters performed in June
2015. Raw and treated mine discharge water was tested for typical
water quality parameters associated with coal mine drainage,
including chloride, bromide and dissolved solids.
DEP’s Bureau of Mining Programs personnel concluded the 2016
results for the nonradiological parameters were comparable to
those from June 2015 and within a normal range of fluctuation that
would be expected when sampling occurs at various times throughout
the year, DEP said.
Based on the results, the reports said, DEP will discontinue
“nonroutine” sampling at the Clyde Mine plant and in Ten Mile
Creek. However, routine monitoring and inspections will continue,
the agency said.