Duquesne University Scientist Says State’s Water Testing For Fracking Chemicals Cannot Be Trusted

Public Herald, February 5, 2018, By Joshua B. Pribanic and Melissa A. Troutman

"A Duquesne University professor studying fracking’s impact to drinking water in Pennsylvania says certain water tests used by state officials to detect fracking chemicals cannot be trusted.

The criticism points to the state’s determination letters — conclusions made by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about whether a person’s water supply has been impacted by oil and gas operations — and instances where ‘trip blanks’ are used to make the determination.

A trip blank is a container that is filled with water and sealed at the laboratory to confirm that no contamination has been picked up during the water testing trip. It’s not reopened until after testing is complete. Essentially, a trip blank should come back to the lab as clean — non-detect. According to information from the Alaska Department of Conservation, if any contaminants are detected in the trip blank sample, “your sample results may not be accurate, and a new test should be run.”

But in an untold number of drinking water complaint investigations by the Pennsylvania DEP, chemicals are being detected in trip blanks, and the Department is not retesting each of those water supplies. Even when those chemicals are associated with fracking.

Public Herald has found several cases across Pennsylvania where contaminated trip blanks have been used for DEP determinations – without retesting.

Dr. John Stolz, the Director of Duquesne University’s Center for Environmental Research and Education, has been testing residential water wells near oil and gas operations for over six years. He also served on DEP’s Laboratory Accreditation Advisory Committee, which addresses quality assurance and control issues in the Department’s water testing procedures.

Stolz says that as far back as 2015 he has told Scott Perry, DEP’s Deputy Secretary in charge of Oil & Gas, that relying on contaminated trip blanks to make conclusions about water quality is inaccurate and misleading. ..."

READ MORE: http://publicherald.org/duquesne-university-scientist-says-states-water-testing-for-fracking-chemicals-cannot-be-trusted/

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