New Test Shows Little Radiation At Ten Mile Creek
Washington PA Observer-Reporter
23 July 2015
By Emily Petsko, Staff writer
New, independent testing for radiation at Ten Mile Creek in Greene
County will probably either comfort or confuse area residents.
A West Virginia University research group found levels of
radioactivity that were barely present – and well below federal
regulations for safe drinking water – in the waterway that feeds
into the Monongahela River. The results released this week starkly
contrasted with earlier tests conducted by the state Department of
“I’m torn,” Ken Dufalla, president of the Greene County chapter of
the Izaak Walton League, said of the conflicting test results.
“If the radiation is not there, thank God because we’d have a hell
of a time getting it out of there. But I’m also torn about the
fact that this is just one lab saying one thing, and another lab
is saying another thing.”
The Izaak Walton League did not conduct its own testing, but
recently learned of detectable levels of radiation at Ten Mile
Creek when it requested the DEP’s test results from last year.
Those tests revealed radium levels between 102 and 301 picocuries
per liter, which is well above the drinking water standard of 5
However, samples taken June 25 by the West Virginia Water Research
Institute revealed radium levels that were lower than 0.6 pCi/L.
Radium-226, which was the highest reading on the DEP test at 301
pCi/L, registered zero on the independent research group’s test.
Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the research group and a doctorate
degree-holder in ecology, said the only potential concern was a
reading for gross alpha radiation at the Clyde Mine discharge
area, which was “just slightly below the drinking water limit on
Both agencies took several samples in roughly the same areas –
near discharge sites at Cumberland Mine in Kirby and the abandoned
Clyde Mine near Clarksville, in an unnamed tributary leading to
Smith Creek and near the area of Sugar Camp Road along Ten Mile
Ziemkiewicz said the hydraulics that bring mine drainage to the
surface are “pretty constant.” In other words, Ziemkiewicz
questioned the accuracy of the DEP’s test.
“The prospect that we’re both right is highly unlikely,” added
John Poister, spokesman for the DEP in Pittsburgh, said the agency
has not yet had the chance to review WVWRI’s test. The DEP is also
awaiting test results from another round of sampling conducted at
various points along Ten Mile Creek June 22 and 23.
“DEP needs to conclude its analysis of the June 2015 sampling
before reaching any conclusion or making any comparative
statements between any of the sampling events,” Poister said. “DEP
does appreciate the additional information from WVU and their
Dufalla, who has degrees in aquatic biology and chemistry,
criticized the DEP’s method of collecting samples. He said the
creek’s flow rate was 13 times faster than normal due to heavy
rains when the DEP took its June 22 sample, which he claimed would
dilute any readings of radium 226 and bromide. Ziemkiewicz agreed
with Dufalla’s statement.
The Izaak Walton League sent a letter to DEP Secretary John
Quigley requesting an investigation into the sample taken on June
The DEP indicated the newest water samples it took will also be
analyzed for “typical acid mine drainage and Marcellus shale
indicators” using “accepted EPA approved methods” to determine if
Radium 226 and 228 and uranium are present.