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The flux of radionuclides in flowback fluid from shale gas exploitation

Almond, S.; Clancy, S.A.; Davies, R.J.; Worrall, F.

The flux of radionuclides in flowback fluid from shale gas exploitation Thumbnail


S. Almond

S.A. Clancy

R.J. Davies


This study considers the flux of radioactivity in flowback fluid from shale gas development in three areas: the Carboniferous, Bowland Shale, UK; the Silurian Shale, Poland; and the Carboniferous Barnett Shale, USA. The radioactive flux from these basins was estimated, given estimates of the number of wells developed or to be developed, the flowback volume per well and the concentration of K (potassium) and Ra (radium) in the flowback water. For comparative purposes, the range of concentration was itself considered within four scenarios for the concentration range of radioactive measured in each shale gas basin, the groundwater of the each shale gas basin, global groundwater and local surface water. The study found that (i) for the Barnett Shale and the Silurian Shale, Poland, the 1 % exceedance flux in flowback water was between seven and eight times that would be expected from local groundwater. However, for the Bowland Shale, UK, the 1 % exceedance flux (the flux that would only be expected to be exceeded 1 % of the time, i.e. a reasonable worst case scenario) in flowback water was 500 times that expected from local groundwater. (ii) In no scenario was the 1 % exceedance exposure greater than 1 mSv—the allowable annual exposure allowed for in the UK. (iii) The radioactive flux of per energy produced was lower for shale gas than for conventional oil and gas production, nuclear power production and electricity generated through burning coal.


Almond, S., Clancy, S., Davies, R., & Worrall, F. (2014). The flux of radionuclides in flowback fluid from shale gas exploitation. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 21(21), 12316-12324.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 28, 2014
Online Publication Date Jun 18, 2014
Publication Date Nov 1, 2014
Deposit Date May 27, 2014
Publicly Available Date Oct 28, 2014
Journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research
Print ISSN 0944-1344
Electronic ISSN 1614-7499
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 21
Pages 12316-12324
Keywords Hydrofracking, NORM, Radium, Barium, Potassium.


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Copyright Statement
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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