Published: January 3, 2011
In this photo made on Dec. 15, 2010, Jim Riggio, the plant manager for the Beaver Falls Municipal Authority, shows a sample of the solid materials removed from the Beaver River water during treatment at the Beaver Falls Municipal Authority plant in Beaver Falls, Pa. The natural gas boom gripping parts of the U.S. has a nasty byproduct: wastewater so salty, and so polluted with metals like barium and strontium, most states require drillers to get rid of the stuff by injecting it down shafts thousands of feet deep. Not in Pennsylvania, one of the states at the center of the gas rush. There, the liquid that gushes from gas wells is only partially treated for substances that could be environmentally harmful, then dumped into rivers and streams from which communities get their drinking water.