Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Radioactive Drilling Waste Sparks Concern

Credit Nicholas_T/via Flickr

The disposal of radioactive gas drilling waste has become a concern at landfills.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, there has been a fivefold increase in garbage trucks setting off radiation alarms at landfills over the past three years:

Between 2009 and 2012, radiation alarms went off 1,325 times in 2012, with more than 1,000 of those alerts just from oil and gas waste, according to data from the Department of Environmental Protection.

The state’s landfills have to one day be fit for people to live on after they close, so the state has to make sure they aren’t allowing a dangerous build-up of radioactivity, officials said.

Oil and gas waste can contain naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM). The concern has prompted the state Department of Environmental Protection to begin a year-long study of the NORM associated with drilling wastes.

The DEP launched the study last month and will be sampling sites throughout the state, including areas producing dry gas in Northern and Central Pennsylvania as well as at least one wet gas site in the Southwestern part of the state.

DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday says at this point, there’s no reason to believe the public is in danger.

“There’s nothing out there to indicate the public or industry face any kind of risk of radiation exposure.”

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