Why Texas tried to hide drinking water radiation from the EPA


27 Responses to “Why Texas tried to hide drinking water radiation from the EPA”

  1. Lexicat says:


    “Dose might be relatively easy to measure in an individual” This isn’t particularly accurate: dose to which organ systems? Internal emitters or no? Dose of which radionuclides distributed how throughout the body? At what duration? Same questions for their daughter products. Same questions for their granddaughter products.

    I know that you appreciate the complexity of exposure to radiation as regards health responses, but dose (which is the measure of exposure) is actually really complex. This is why the history of measures of radiation dose varies so much: attempts to build in what goes where and for how long are very complicated, and are reflected by the more recent measure’s including aspects of biology in terms of what part of the body is exposed to what.

    Not simple at all. And that’s even getting to the question of building reliable dose-response curves.

  2. Joseph Hertzlinger says:

    I’m somehow reminded of the water supply official who denied that there was dihydrogen monoxide in the water supply.

  3. zorro869 says:

    Once again, proving federal agencies created to protect citizens do exactly the opposite because of human greed and money. We need to dissolve all our agencies and start over with non-paid consumer-watched agencies. When the FDA lets Cheney basically exempt 150 chemicals to be pumped into groundwater in the “clean water act”, we know the system has been compromised. This is evil, and wrong plain and simple. Literally, the people involved should be brought up on murder charges. It’s unbelievable how plain BAD people are.

    • tsdguy says:

      Confused here – the Federal agency is protecting the citizens of Texas but the State government of Texas is not. What is your point? None.

      A quick review here – on one hand we have the EPA with top notch scientists, studies and data which encompass the entire US and a long history of protecting the environment and on the other hand we have the Texas EPA, an arm of the Texas State government which has the sole purpose of reducing the cost of doing business in Texas by eliminating regulation, ignoring violations and providing a safe haven for the oil industry.

  4. cservant says:

    Obviously patent holders of Radithor should hire lawyers from RIAA/MPAA and start suing Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.


  5. Chris Tucker says:

    Daria was telling us about this YEARS ago!


    Starts at 6:30 into the video.

  6. TomDArch says:

    Hmmm… Ms. Kathleen Hartnett White says that she has “far more trust in the vigor of the science that TCEQ assess, than I do EPA.” Riiiiiight. This is a disagreement about science. So what scientific qualifications does Ms. Hartnett White have? Perhaps a high qualification would be getting published in the prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journal, The National Review, with a study called:

    “The EPA’s Anti-Prosperity Agenda”

    Oh, wait, the National Review is a right-wing propaganda rag, and that wasn’t anything slightly scientific – it’s just right-wing opinion blathering.

    Good to know that her decision to weasel out of her legal responsibilities, make dubious claims about “science” and so on weren’t biased by partisan politics in the slightest….

    Frankly, I’m a little peeved that Maggie presented this as though it was a reasonable “he-said-she-said” situation of people arguing science. Instead this appears to be like the typical global warming “debate” – you put a partisan wacko who lies through his teeth on one side and a real climate scientist on the other side who is making a good faith effort to present the current best science. Viewers/readers are left to conclude that the truth lies somewhere in between, when it certainly does not. (Also, the problem of how can honest people debate against totally disingenuous ideologues?)

  7. Lexicat says:

    Ooops, meant to write: And that’s not even getting to the question of building reliable dose-response curves.

  8. Anonymous says:

    When I lived in that area, they had what are called Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs) for water service. The MUD idea is to create a bunch of very small private water utilities that are more akin to a shared well administered by the homeowner’s association, than city water. If all of these MUDs had to comply with a requirement to upgrade their systems, it wouldn’t be easy to hide in a big municipal budget, and it might not be possible for these MUDs to get a loan to do it. That would mean people getting a bills for several thousands of dollars to cover this. Since a preponderance of people in Texas overwhelmingly despise the EPA, this could cause years of lawsuits and be a general nightmare for everybody involved.

    Given all this, I can see why TCEQ would want to make the data go away. That doesn’t mean it is right to hide public health risk data from the public, or to try to convince people there is some liberal agenda on the part of the EPA. But that is how they are going to work it.

  9. dr says:

    The relationship between the US EPA and the State EPAs or equivalent is frequently strained. (Disclaimer: I used to work in the water quality division of the US EPA.) USEPA sets standards through fairly rigorous testing; they have their own labs just for this, and also do quite a lot of field work as well as part of establishing the standards. However, implementation – especially monitoring of industry and utilities – is left in the hands of the state EPAs. Because this is an unfunded mandate on the state coffers, the protocol for such monitoring often ends up being primarily self-reporting by the industry of their own analysis of their own self-sampling. EPA standards are usually conservative, so they are almost certainly on the right side w/r to the science on this, but the ultimate solution is to change the EPA’s policy of delegating implementation authority.

  10. rebus says:

    “In South Texas, uranium is found in the rock lining fresh water aquifers that provide water for drinking and irrigation. During in-situ uranium mining, hundreds of wells are drilled into the aquifer to inject a bicarbonate/oxygen solution to separate uranium from the ore. The mining solution frees the uranium and other metals such as arsenic, molybdenum, and selenium from the aquifer rock. In addition, Radium-226, a significantly more radioactive element than uranium, is also freed in this process.”


    dirty dirty dirty

  11. VICTOR JIMENEZ says:

    I´m surprised i´m the first to point this out but:

    “Now, this explains a lot about Texans…”

  12. Drowse says:

    TCEQ has been screwing Texans since it was created. They seem to completely look past the pollution from Oil & Gas well drilling in the Barnett Shale in North Central Texas. I, for one, would be happy to see the EPA step in and make them go away, but Slick Rick isn’t going to let that happen.

  13. Thorzdad says:

    “She says the new rules were too protective and would end up costing small communities tens of millions of dollars to comply.”

    Frankly, the “cost communities tens of thousands” excuse is a standard response, when it comes to not following environmental guidelines. The water could be glowing in the dark, and they’d still trot-out “It would cost communities…” to excuse non-action.

  14. Roy Trumbull says:

    In some parts of the country the natural ground radiation can buildup in homes or crawl spaces and there isn’t much you can do about it except detect it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, tough call.

    On one hand the EPA has been increasingly stringent and in many instances it appears more based on self-interest than science…

    on the other, the laws are the laws, even if they arent made by a duly elected representative of the people and has been subcontracted to faceless agencies… with little to no oversight and many loopholes regarding enforcement and such… and when you take them or other agencies on you get federal disaster and other funds withheld, further preventing you from effective local government

    whats a state to do?

  16. sum.zero says:

    wouldn’t the correct way to deal with this disagreement be to have an open and frank discussion via the available legislative and judicial processes?

    i am fairly certain the correct way ISN’T to violate federal regulation, lie and obfuscate…

  17. Chrisnotbombs says:

    Yeah, It doesn’t really mater if they ‘agree’ with the law. It’s there job to report the information. It’s the judges job to interpret the law. They’re just being slimy corporate / corrupt officials. Really what’s next… is BP going to say they it didn’t agree that oil well shouldn’t blow up every once and a while.

    send these bastards to jail…

  18. Anonymous says:

    This is an issue in many areas of the country. (Not the lying, which is flat out wrong, but the issue of radiation in the water.)

    I worked at a consulting firm doing a report on issues facing water treatment plants. The radiation issue I wrote about were in New Hampshire (The Granite State) but sound similar.

    In places where there is radiation in the water, it’s in the same local soil and bedrock that the houses are built on. The radiation danger from the water largely comes into play from the aerosolization of the water when it comes out of the shower or taps. The water’s share of the overall radiation load in the house is quite small. The cost to remove the radiation from the water is astronomical. The cost of installing vents in the houses would be a fraction of this amount and do more to lower the resident’s exposure to radiation than treating the water would.

    The water companies (and most consumer activists) feel that the radiation problem is best dealt with through local building codes. The EPA looks only at the safety of the water. I can see why they take that attitude, because you don’t want water companies saying that we shouldn’t have to clean the water in polluted areas. However, in areas with naturally occurring dangers, it does seem that public health would be better served by water companies subsidizing or paying outright to handle venting for all water customers (which is what the people I talked to were offering) in affected areas.

    None of this is to excuse what Texas did, just to put it into perspective. This is a local radon problem, not a water problem.

  19. Anonymous says:

    First rule of Texas Politics: What you know is what they couldn’t cover up.

    Second rule of Texas Politics: What got covered up is always worse than decent people will imagine.

    So: there is radiation in the tap water. It is human industrial pollution. It has killed many people. It will never be cleaned up.

    Probably Amarillo; that’s were the nukes get built.

    Just a reasonable guess.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I live in the middle of the Hill Country in TX. In my town there have been NUMEROUS cases of cancer. Some people have even had 2 or 3 different types of cancer at one time here. SOMETHING needs to be done here. The whole town is corrupt and needs to be looked at. They even send us bills for our water usage each month when they cant even read it because the meter is under 2ft of dirt…. So backwards here. Needs to be investigated quickly.

  21. Anonymous says:

    simple facts on commies counting Chernobyl causalties and long term exposure risks and deaths.

    what they did is they used statistics methods. now let’s look at quality of their data samples and the choosen method. they were comparing both non-fatal and fatal cancer cases per region.

    the immediatly exposed people from within the evacuation zone were relocated and spreaded into the “other regions”. now you should understand why there is no difference of the around the plant and far far away.

    the biorobots and likvidators building the concrete sarcophagus, enforcing the (animal) death zone and washing away the radioactive fallout and sprinkling the into pvc solidifying chemicals to prevent the heavy radioactive dust from being picked up all were army recruits, reserves, assembly and other industry workers etc. from all around the country who did come in did the job were either immediatly sick and died in the other region with rad disease treatment hospital or they got home in the other region and died there. now you should understand why there is second reson this statistics shows no difference for near/far.

    but that’s far from being complete picture. long term exposure most significant factor is the food intake. check the fallout map and see all the country was contaminated at something considered high but not neededing evacuation levels. but what? the food chain works agains you. the measured concentration almost thousand kilometers far even 5 years after the accident in food in fallout area with below average falloout is thousand to hundred thousand times higher then the ground levels. so if this is thousand kilometers away then the whole country – regions half way with above average up to ridiculous fallout levels – ate the same risky radioactive food. and this is the killer of the commies statistical approach and the result of “perfectly safe”

  22. Anonymous says:

    When it comes to water, food and radiation and you consider:

    yourself drinking radiocative water, yourself running a farm providing livestock with the radiocative water and using the radioctive water to water the crops and then eating what you produced.

    The immediate drinking is so many times lesser concern then the food… Since the crops and livestock work as “live filters” so all the water you pour on that filter counts as if you drink it.

  23. Anonymous says:

    This frightens me. This part of the Texas Hill Country is right where my wife grew up. It’s where her parents lived until they both died about 6 years ago. They died due to fairly rare cancers and they drank well water. Of course that could be completely unrelated. But it has me worried nonetheless.

    Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I’ll just have to wait and see.

  24. Anonymous says:

    what you should expect to happen depends on the amount of deposited materials.

    1000km away with deposit in between 2-40 (kBq/m^-2)



    air-now (=1y after chernobyl but so much shorter time = so much lesser the volume travelling by and given chance to deposit)

  25. Anonymous says:

    Where does one go to find out the natural base line of radiation sources for their region?

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