Company explains its radioactivity tests from fracking to Youngstown council


A presentation by Austin Master Services at Youngstown City Hall clarified the process the company is taking in testing radioactivity in materials that come out of the earth through the fracking process.

Pete Collopy, radiation safety officer, and Pat Horkman, regional manager, explained the process Wednesday evening at city hall of using an expedited analytical process to tell the oil and gas industry the levels of radium 226 and radium 228 in Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material or TENORM. This can include materials like drilling muds or fracking flow back and production water sludge.

“I do feel a little better coming from the company’s point of view, but not from a regulatory” perspective, said Susie Beiersdorfer, a geologist and a member of Frackfree Mahoning Valley — an organization that raised concerns over the company’s presence in Youngstown.

Pennsylvania-based Austin Master Services operates the testing on Sinter Court in the city and has since the company received a license from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in early February to test the radioactivity in material that comes directly off the well pad from either the Utica or Marcellus shale plays in Ohio or Pennsylvania.

The process the company takes is to take photographic images of a container brought in by the oil and gas companies and use an In-Situ Gamma Spectroscopy device to test the material.

“We do our own identification of what is in the box with this,” Collopy said. “We are relatively confident in our numbers.”

Read more about the process in Thursday's Vindicator or on

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