Fracking seems to be causing problems for wastewater treatment plants. These plants were built before fracking was invented, and they aren’t able to handle the wastewater generated by fracking. Radium, a very radioactive element, has been found downstream of these treatment plants, is appearing in high enough levels to cause places to be deemed a radioactive waste site.
The radium is naturally found in the layer of shale that has natural gas, the target for fracking. But when the shale is fractured, the radium is released into the wastewater. This wastewater goes to the water treatment plants, but they aren’t setup to handle this level of radioactivity. The radioactive water that was studied is released into streams, and then the Allegheny River, a water source for Pittsburg, PA.