Pennsylvania American Says its Water Shows No Radioactivity

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
17 May 2011
By Timothy Puko

A battery of tests showed no radioactive contaminants in the water used and produced locally by Pennsylvania American Water, which serves about 222,000 customers in Western Pennsylvania, the company announced yesterday.

The company performed extra tests throughout March in reaction to media reports that questioned whether the expanding Marcellus shale gas drilling industry was putting radioactive chemicals into public water.

The tests showed the company's water supply and the drinking water it produces have not been affected by radioactive chemicals from shale drilling, the company said.

The state has asked 25 wastewater treatment plants and 14 drinking water suppliers to do similar tests as thousands of wells have been drilled statewide. Ten drinking water suppliers have finished their tests, reporting no problems with radioactive compounds, said Kevin Sunday, a spokesman at the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Many others are waiting for their samples to get through a backlog at third-party labs and should announce results by June, he added.

Pennsylvania American tested at its water intakes on the Allegheny, Clarion and Monongahela rivers and Two Lick Creek in Indiana County.

They provide drinking water in six Western Pennsylvania counties from Washington to Clarion, company spokesman Gary Lobaugh said.

Gross alpha radiation, gross beta radiation, radium, strontium and tritium did not turn up in the tests, nor did volatile compounds including benzene, ethylbenzene and vinyl chloride.

Inorganic compounds including chromium, mercury, arsenic, barium and lead showed up, but they were in amounts "well within" government compliance standards, according to a company news release.

Timothy Puko can be reached at or 412-320-7991.