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Duke Lab Study Cuts Fracking Waste’s Radioactivity

Employees of an oil and gas company work on a natural gas valve at a hydraulic fracturing site. (credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Employees of an oil and gas company work on a natural gas valve at a hydraulic fracturing site. (credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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HOUSTON, Texas (AP) – Duke University researchers believe they have found an unlikely way to decrease the dangerous radioactive levels found in some wastewater from hydraulic fracturing: mix it with the hazardous drainage from mining operations.

Duke professor Avner Vengosh says the discovery would allow oil and gas drillers to combine flowback waters from the fracking process with acid drainage from mining – or any other salty water – and remove the solids that form. The water left behind could be used to drill a new well.

Finding solutions for dumping contaminated water and for having water to drill new wells is crucial. Oil and gas drilling is booming due to hydraulic fracturing, which uses millions of gallons of chemical-laced water to crack thick layers of rock so fossil fuels can flow out.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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