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Webinar focuses on radium, radon in landfilled fracking waste

Date Published: 03/26/2020 [Source]

A program Saturday on the health risks of radium and radon in the Hakes C&D Landfill in Steuben County and the Chemung County Landfill will be presented as a webinar.

The program, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will feature Dr. David Carpenter and Dr. Raymond Vaughan addressing evidence of high levels of radium and radon in the landfills' leachate test results and what these levels mean for the health of workers at the landfills and people living downwind or downstream from the landfills.

The program was moved to an online session because of the coronavirus.

The Chemung Landfill and the Hakes Landfill are the two landfills in New York taking the greatest volume of drill cuttings from gas drilling operations in the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania, according to organizers of the webinar. Leachate test results for both landfills show significant levels of radium and radon breakdown products.

The webinar is planned by the Concerned Citizens of Allegany County, the Sierra Club and People for a Health Environment Inc.

Karen Ash, chair of Concerned Citizens, said the webinar is of interest because the Casella-owned Hyland Landfill in Angelica is also permitted to accept fracking waste.

"The information presented by these experts is likely to apply in Allegany County in precisely the same way as in Steuben," she said.

Carpenter is professor of environmental health sciences and director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany.

He previously served as dean of the School of Public Health at the university from 1985-98. From 1973-80, he served as chair of the Neurobiology Department of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, the research arm of the Defense Nuclear Agency, where he directed and performed research on the health effects of ionizing radiation.

Because of that background and because of the concern of effects of ionizing radiation resulting from the Three Mile Island nuclear plant incident, in 1980 he was appointed as director of the Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and Research of the New York State Department of Health, where in addition to his other responsibilities he continued research on health effects of ionizing radiation, funded in most part by the Defense Nuclear Agency.

Vaughan is a licensed professional geologist and environmental scientist in Buffalo. His familiarity with the physical and quantitative properties of radionuclides and the alpha, beta and gamma radiation they emit is based partly on work relating to radionuclides, which he performed between 2000-12 when he was employed as an environmental scientist with the New York state attorney general's office.

His familiarity on the subject is also based on consulting work he has done to review and interpret radiological test results, as well as technically-oriented volunteer work he has performed for several decades as a member of the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes (1978-2006) and as a member of the West Valley Citizen Task Force (1997-present).

He was appointed to the task force by the U.S. Department of Energy and the New York State Energy Research and Development Administration (NYSERDA).

Register for the webinar at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8533019877742431499.