What is leachate?
Unconventional natural gas development (fracking) produces vast amounts of waste. This waste comes in the form of brine and drill cuttings, both brought up from deep shale layers that can contain high amounts of uranium. Despite the potential presence of radioactivity, this waste is classified as residual waste and permitted to be disposed of in landfills that are intended for the collection of nonhazardous waste. Leachate is the result of rainwater and moisture seeping through waste at a landfill and leaching chemicals, organic matter, and other particles from the waste. The leachate is then classified as residual waste at the landfill and sewage treatment plants. But the leachate is not treated for potential radioactive materials, leaving concerns that discharged treated water could be polluting rivers and streams.