Resnikoff Again? You’ve Got to be Kidding!

waterless fracking Tom

Tom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


Things have reached the bottom of the barrel, scientifically speaking, if the Delaware Riverkeeper thinks Marvin Resnikoff has any credibility on TENORM.

The Delaware Riverkeeper organization has always teetered on the edge of outright lunacy, but two announcements released from their gas-heated offices in Bristol, Pennsylvania recently suggest it’s now plunging over the side into the depths of eco-insanity. The William Penn Foundation may have to re-evaluate their investment in this dirty tricks outfit.

One was the laughable announcement Maya and friends are going to lead a “Farms Not Fracking” Rally at Pennsylvania Farm Show next month. Supposedly, they’re going to express outrage over this collection of falsehoods:

Fracking is ruining farming in Pennsylvania – cows have been sickened and died, calves still born, vegetable farms destroyed, water polluted, and rural life ruined by industrial gas development.

Having grown up on a farm that benefited enormously from a gas lease a few years ago, attended many Farm Shows and witnessed what gas drilling has done for farmers in Bradford and Susquehanna Counties, the idea of Maya van Rossum, the Radnor brat, showing up there to protest on behalf of farmers is a hoot. It promises to be a repeat performance of former Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan showing up to save Dimock a few years ago and getting run out of town.

The second, and far more significant, was the equally laughable news the Riverkeeper was using Marvin Resnikoff to critique Pennsylvania DEP’s TENORM study. It’s like hiring Jimmy Buffet to teach a course on classical music.

marvin resnikoff

Marvin Resnikoff

I have examined Marvin Resnikoff’s work up close on multiple occasions (here, here and here for example) and the fact the Delaware Riverkeeper thinks this is the guy to make their case, tells us everything we need to know about their credibility, which is now officially zilch (as if they ever had any). Resnikoff has put out report for the Riverkeeper entitled Review of PADEP TENORM Study Report. It is chocked full of paragraphs such as this one critiquing the work of Perma-Fix Environmental Services, Inc. (PESI), the consulting firm DEP used to assist with its study (emphasis added):

PESI’s sampling plan discussed the sampling of many different sites and equipment, most of which were on private property. The plan was not forthcoming regarding how and why PESI chose their sample sites. It is unclear whether PESI had the freedom to choose any site in the field, or whether DEP sampled specific sites based on industry’s approval. PESI’s study outline also failed to discuss why some drill sites with high radiation readings were not included in the study. For example, many spills at gas wells have been reported in Pennsylvania, and radiation alarms have been set off at Pennsylvania landfills, but it is unclear whether these sites were sampled.

The study, in other words, is suspect according to Resnikoff because he’s not satisfied PESI used all the worst case examples they could find. Section 1.5 of the TENORM study, however, lays out exactly how sites were selected and Sub-section 1.5.3 below spells out landfill selection criteria, directly countering Resnikoff’s suggestion that it’s “unclear” whether landfills were sampled:

1)  All Pennsylvania landfills.

2)  Nine landfills that accepted the largest amount of TENORM-containing waste during the past year.

3)  Large-volume TENORM-containing waste disposal sites where onsite worker exposure measurements could be obtained and representative samples of solids could be collected.

Weasel-wording, using phrases such as “unclear” and “not forthcoming”  throughout the report to create artificial doubt about what is plain to all is characteristic of Resnikoff. This is why his work has been repeatedly rejected by courts and other experts such as the USGS and, yet, he keeps recycling the same material and ideas. He references his own work five different times, in fact, in attacking the DEP report, relying upon the same nonsense already debunked several times.

marvin resnikoff

Resnikoff, for example, opens his DEP criticism with a reference to his own analysis of USGS data in a 2010 study, saying it showed “underground/subsurface radium concentrations in the Marcellus shale are up to 32 times surface background concentrations.” His analysis was grossly in error, though, as I noted in one my earlier ports on his work, drawing on Ralph Johnson’s examination of his work:

Johnson notes the USGS data used by Resnikoff relies upon only four core samples (two from New York, one from Pennsylvania and one from Ohio). Moreover, these samples are all from different depths and some aren’t even Marcellus Shale…

Johnson points out, however, Resnikoff had left out an important part of the formula for converting the gamma-ray readings into radium-226 readings by failing to recognize it measured other things as well (e.g. thorium and potassium-40). Johnson explains how the gamma-ray reading for the Reading well actually  produces a radium-226 reading of approximately 1.4 to 2.9 pCi/g. Even adding in the radium-228 would yield total radium of just 3.7 to 7.3 pCi/g, not the 12 to 24 pCi/g suggested by Resnikoff…

Read Johnson’s critique and my previous posts and you’ll see Resinikoff is regurgitating much of the same nonsense he set out in his 2010 and 2012 reports; the ones he references in this analysis. This is why he’s the Rodney Dangerfield of radioactivity experts. Here, in fact, is Ralph Johnson’s rundown on Resnikoff’s credentials (see linked article for footnoted sources of information):

The subject of health physics includes the measurement of radiation and the study of the health effects caused by radiation exposure. Many of the statements made in Resnikoff’s report pertain to the subject of health physics. Resnikoff has no formal training in radiation dosimetry or dose reconstruction, other than one undergraduate course taken during the 1950s. Resnikoff failed the examination to be certified as a health physicist and has not retaken the examination.

Resnikoff states that he has written books on radioactive waste issues. Resnikoff’s book, Living Without Landfills, was reviewed by a committee of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. The NCRP committee found that Resnikoff’s book was “misleading,” because it: (1) “excluded relevant information,” (2) “contained misstatements of fact,” (3) “contained many exaggerations,” (4) “exhibited bias,” and (5) “contained many instances of faulty logic.”

Resnikoff states that he has been involved in litigation involving land contamination in Louisiana. In the Harvey Term litigation, the Louisiana state district court rejected Resnikoff’s dose calculations and opinion, finding that they were “fatally flawed” because he relied upon an “outlandish premise.” Resnikoff’s “outlandish premise” was that all of the residents in the vicinity of a petroleum pipe-cleaning facility remained constantly in their yards for 30 years; i.e., they stood outdoors 24 hours per day, 365 days per year for 30 years.

Resnikoff also attempted to testify as an expert on health physics in a Florida federal court. The court rejected Resnikoff’s proposed testimony, finding that his “false assumptions” made his methodology unreliable.

The decision in the last referenced Florida case above can be read here and on page 15 the court notes that believing Resnikoff requires a “leap of faith.” That leap of faith is required with much of what Resnikoff has done. Take, for example, his challenge of USGS research, which caused that agency to strike back, all but calling the man a liar.

This is the Delaware Riverkeeper’s expert and the fact they are resorting to him to attack a Pennsylvania DEP study tells us just how little they have in their arsenal beyond the big mouth and piercing screams of their leader. Add in the fact they’re going to the Pennsylvania Farm Show to speak on behalf of farmers whose very asses have been saved by fracking, and it’s pretty clear they reached their nadir in terms of effectiveness. I hope one of those farmers hands Maya one of these bumper stickers seen on the back of farm tractors in Susquehanna County, PA:

Marvin Resnikoff

Some of those farmers might even be able to explain to Maya what she’s spreading by using Marvin Resnikoff as an “expert.”

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3 thoughts on “Resnikoff Again? You’ve Got to be Kidding!

  1. Interesting. Just as interesting as the list of groups and “experts” at Linda Rosenthal’s “hearing” on her pipeline radon bill. The actual testimony from those environmental experts such as those from Damascus Citizen’s for Sustainability, their lawyer Zimmerman apparently an influence on NY attorney general Schneiderman and lots of familiar names from the “movement” who are seen as valid experts by lots of politicians is one of the most interesting things I’ve seen. And guess what? You don’t even have to FOIA the fascinating transcript from this historic event.

  2. Seriously?! Tom Shepstone, has a BS from Penn State in Ag. Economics and is a biased consultant to the gas industry, and questions the credentials of Dr. Resnikoff, who has a BS, MS and PhD in Physics and a career involving and vast scientific expertise in radiation. What a joke!

    • Well, actually, it’s the courts and other experts, Susan. I’ve only reported their rejections of his testimony and the reasons they did so.

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