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Michigan Landfill to Take Radioactive Fracking Waste

Michigan signA landfill in eastern Michigan was ready to accept up to 36 tons of low-level radioactive fracking waste last week that had already been rejected from two other states, according to the Detroit News.

A number of local residents, as well as the Michigan director of the Sierra Club, expressed public safety concerns about the pending shipment, including the possibility of groundwater contamination.

As of Monday, it was not clear whether the waste had actually arrived at Wayne Disposal, the facility designated to accept it.

The waste originated from Range Resources, an oil and gas company with drilling operations in Washington County, Pa. The waste had previously been rejected from a landfill in western Pennsylvania this year after heightened radiation was detected.

Range Resources then took the material to a landfill in West Virginia, but was stopped when the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection sought more information and instituted new rules tightening the state’s management of radioactive drilling wastes.

According to a spokesperson for Range Resources, the radioactivity levels in the material measured between 40 and 260 microrems per hour and were not detectable a few feet from the source.

Wayne Disposal received approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to accept the material in 2006. According to Brad Wurfel, a DEQ spokesperson, the material’s radiation levels were not high enough to be considered a public health threat.

Wurfel added that sending the material to a facility such as Wayne Disposal – where it could be treated and disposed of properly – was actually an example of responsible operation.

Earlier this year Range Resources applied for a Pennsylvania “beneficial use” permit to use gas well drilling waste rock material as paving material, noting that it would benefit the environment by reducing the amount of mined aggregate needed and the amount of waste material sent to landfills.

Oil and gas companies have been under increased scrutiny of late as the result of radioactivity showing up in wastewater from gas field landfills.

Photo Credit: Michigan Sign via Shutterstock

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