Posts Tagged ‘3 Rivers QUEST’

Additional WVU testing confirms acceptable levels of radioactivity in drinking water at Clyde Mine

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Blog, News

Treated affluent from Clyde Mine discharging into Tenmile Creek, Greene County, PA.

Treated affluent from Clyde Mine discharging into Tenmile Creek, Greene County, PA.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Additional testing by the West Virginia Water Research Institute (WVWRI) at Clyde Mine on Tenmile Creek shows acceptable radium levels in drinking water.

Tenmile Creek is the primary watershed within Greene County Pennsylvania, passing through Waynesburg before joining the Monongahela River in Clarksville, Pennsylvania.

“We looked hard and just could not find any evidence of harmful radiation levels,” said Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the WVWRI.

Methodology

WVWRI sampled the Clyde Mine discharge on Tenmile Creek six times over a two-week period beginning in late July to make sure the results were representative. That data showed that the highest minimum detectable concentration (MDC) of alpha radiation was 2.95 pCi/L, while the drinking water limit is 5 pCi/L. The reported values averaged 0.74 pCi/L.

In April 2014, sSampling done by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) in April 2014 indicated high levels of radium in discharges to Tenmile Creek from the abandoned Clyde Mine and coal refuse piles farther upstream near Waynesburg and another at the Cumberland Mine on Whiteley Creek.

“The radium numbers were high but not consistent with the much lower gross alpha radiation readings,” said Ziemkiewicz. “Radium is an alpha emitter and the gross alpha reading should be the sum of all of the alpha emitters.

Ziemkiewicz said there were to other problems with the data.

“It wasn’t clear from the 2014 PADEP data which analytical method was used to determine radium concentrations, and the MDC were not provided,” he said. “MDC tells you the lowest data value that can be reported with confidence. For example, if the MDC is 100 all you can say is that the actual value is somewhere between zero and 100.”

Ziemkiewicz explained that if the reading is 50 and the MDC is 100 you still can only say that the actual value is somewhere between zero and 100.

“This is extremely important to remember when evaluating radiochemical results,” he said. “When we saw these inconsistencies we decided to resample and reanalyze using approved EPA methods. We guessed that PADEP determined radium by gamma spectroscopy.”

According to Ziemkiewicz, that method is used mainly as a screening tool for solid wastes.
“It’s cheap but not very precise when used for water samples,” said Ziemkiewicz. “It may be the best method for undiluted Marcellus flowback water where interfering ions like strontium and barium measure in the thousands of milligrams per liter. But the Clyde mine discharge had zero barium and only 6.6 milligrams per liter of strontium, so interference is not an issue. That’s why we used the more precise radiochemistry methods.”

In June of this year, WVWRI sampled the same sites that PADEP had sampled in 2014 and sent the water samples to PACE Analytical Services in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, for analysis. PACE is a state-certified radiochemistry lab. The radium results came in well below EPA drinking water levels.

The only parameter that was close to the drinking water limit was gross alpha, which was 13.4 pCi/L. The drinking water limit is 15 pCi/L. However, the total dissolved solids were high in this sample. So in addition to EPA method 900.0, WVWRI asked PACE to use EPA method 7110C, which is recommended for high-total dissolved solids water.

Providing research data for residents

Funded by the Colcom Foundation, the WVWRI’s Three Rivers QUEST (3RQ) REACH program provided the means to initiate this targeted study for radiologicals on Tenmile Creek in response to residents’ concerns.

The 3RQ program brings together academic researchers with grassroots organizations by collecting field water-quality data and information from local water monitoring groups that are in tune with the health of their local watersheds.

“Several watershed organizations have been monitoring along Tenmile Creek. When their field instruments suggest something unusual we can respond with more detailed chemical analysis. Testing for radiologicals is expensive and beyond the means of most citizens,” said Melissa O’Neal, 3RQ project manager. “Results from this targeted study provide reliable data to local residents who are concerned about the quality of their streams.”

The 3RQ program has been monitoring the mouth of Tenmile Creek since 2009 for a suite of chemical parameters. Results from WVWRI and its partner grassroots water monitoring organizations is shared with the public on the program’s website, 3RiversQUEST.org.

CONTACT: Andrew Stacy, West Virginia Water Research Institute
304-293-7085; ASTACY@mail.wvu.edu

Recent Water Quality Testing of Tenmile Creek Shows Radium Levels Well Below Federal Drinking Water Standards

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Blog, News

Clyde Mine Discharge Tenmile Creek

Treated effluent from Clyde Mine discharging into Tenmile Creek, Greene County, Pennsylvania. Recent water quality testing of Tenmile Creek showed radium levels well below federal drinking water standards.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Tenmile Creek is an important tributary to the Monongahela River, running 40 miles through forested hills and farms in Greene County, Pennsylvania. In 2015, Ken Dufalla, president of the Izaak Walton League of America’s (IWLA) local chapter obtained 2014 water quality data for Tenmile Creek from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). After reviewing the data, Dufalla contacted Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of West Virginia University’s Water Research Institute (WVWRI) in nearby Morgantown and the two concluded that the data indicated unusually high levels of radium. In response, the two decided to sample the same sites that the PADEP sampled to verify the results.

So, in June 2015, Dufalla guided WVWRI personnel to three coal mine discharges into Tenmile Creek. The samples were analyzed by Pace Analytical Services, a state-certified lab in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The results showed that radium was no higher than 0.75 pCi/L, well below the drinking water standard of 5 pCi/L set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In contrast, the 2014 PADEP radium readings were as high as 300 pCi/L.

“Pace Analytical used the USEPA recommended methods for determining radium in drinking water, so our results should be highly reliable,” said Ziemkiewicz.

Ziemkiewicz indicated that the PADEP is in the middle of re-sampling Tenmile Creek and he looks forward to comparing results.

Funded by the Colcom Foundation, the WVWRI’s Three Rivers QUEST (3RQ) REACH program provided the means for WVWRI to initiate this targeted study for radiologicals on Tenmile Creek, in response to residents’ concerns.

The 3RQ program brings together academic researchers with grassroots organizations by collecting field water quality data and information from local water monitoring groups that are in-tune with the health of their local watersheds.

“Several watershed organizations have been monitoring along Tenmile Creek. When their field instruments suggest something unusual we can respond with more detailed chemical analysis. Testing for radiologicals is expensive and beyond the means of most citizens” said Melissa O’Neal, 3RQ project manager.

“Results from this targeted study provide reliable data to local residents who are concerned about the quality of their streams.”

The 3RQ program has been monitoring the mouth of Tenmile Creek since 2009 for a suite of chemical parameters. Results from WVWRI and its partner, grassroots water monitoring organizations is shared with the public on the program’s website, 3RiversQUEST.org.

Wheeling Jesuit Biology Team To Assist WVU In $350,000 Water Monitoring Quality Study

Written by WTOV on . Posted in Media, News

WHEELING, W.Va. — Wheeling Jesuit University biology students, along with Professor Dr. Ben Stout, will assist the West Virginia Water Research Institute and West Virginia University with a $350,000 grant to expand a regional water quality monitoring program called Three Rivers QUEST.

The Colcom Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based private foundation dedicated to fostering a sustainable environment, provided for the launch of the Mon River QUEST in 2010 after monitoring began in 2009 on the Monongahela River through a U.S. Geological Survey grant. The effort expanded to become Three Rivers QUEST (3RQ), with Colcom Foundation contributing more than…

Read the full article at the WTOV website.

National Water Quality Monitoring Council recognizes WVWRI and 3RQ

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Media, News

The West Virginia Water Research Institute and Three Rivers QUEST have been recognized for their work in improving the water quality of the Monongahela River by the National Water Quality Monitoring Council.

The programs are featured in a success story in the council’s Spring 2015 Issue of National Water Monitoring News.

The National Water Quality Monitoring Council brings together scientists, managers, and citizens to ensure information about the quality of U.S. water resources is accurate, reliable and comparable.

The newsletter highlighted the program implemented by WVWRI and 3RQ to improve the Mon River.

In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) declared the Monongahela River impaired for potable water use due to the presence of sulfate salts.

A plan, spearheaded by WVWRI, combined water science with stakeholder collaboration, sought to restore the river in less time than the traditional regulatory process.  3RQ provided the data necessary for the improvement plan, as well as the statistics of its success.

By 2010, the plan was in effect and sulfate concentrations in the Monongahela River began to decrease. As a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved PADEP’s decision to remove the Mon from the “impaired for potable water use” listing in late 2014.