Connecticut: Fracking Waste Ban Signed by Samanthan Schoenfeld, August 19, 2014, Fox CT
Connecticut is trying to stay ahead of a potential environmental problem. Monday, the governor signed a new bill into law that prevents fracking waste from coming into Connecticut. The ban will last three years. [Does the law also ban drilling and radioactive waste?]
Environment Connecticut estimates a quarter of a trillion gallons of waste per year is created nationwide by fracking.
It’s normally dealt with in the states that tap into the natural gas, but the organization says many states are running out of space and are looking for places to put the waste.
As nearby states like Pennsylvania decide to drill for natural gas, Connecticut isn’t leaving anything to chance. During the three year ban the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will research what chemicals are involved in the process.
“It also makes sure that those states that are benefiting from tax revenue or other revenues from fracking, if that’s the decision that they have made, then don’t push to us the handling of these materials,” said Governor Malloy. “We didn’t wait until the damage was already done. …” [Emphasis added]
Pennsylvania Frac’ers sending slude to the Mitten State by Heather Smith, August 19, 2014, Grist
Back in 2002, the state, concerned that people were dumping radioactive medical waste, equipped all the state’s landfills with radiation detectors. Since then, deliveries of sludge and drill cuttings from the Marcellus Shale had been triggering the alarms several hundred times a year. While low levels of radiation are common in fracking waste (and in the world at large), the Marcellus Shale does have more radium than your average geological formation. Back in 2011, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) banned wastewater treatment plants from accepting any water used to frack the Marcellus Shale, which the plants routinely did at the time. Months later, the DEQ reported it was still finding elevated radium levels downstream from the plants.
Now, the radioactive sludge that was being turned away by Pennsylvania was on its way to Michigan, home to 84 percent of the country’s aboveground freshwater supply. LuAnne Kozma began to do some digging. She had begun studying up on and organizing against Michigan’s nascent fracking boom two years ago, after hearing ominous stories from family in New Jersey. This was a new wrinkle.
The sludge, it turned out, was the property of Range Resources, a company that prided itself on “pioneering the Marcellus Shale play” but that was having trouble getting rid of the byproducts. It had also had shipments blocked in West Virginia. The landfill in Michigan, Wayne Disposal, was one of only two landfills in America that could take waste with that level of radioactivity. (The other one is in Grand View, Idaho.)
Curious to find out more about what was going to happen to this waste, Kozma called Wayne Disposal. But Wayne Disposal told her it only talked to people with hazardous waste to dispose of — i.e., “clients.” So she called the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, where the man who answered the phone said that he wasn’t aware of any new shipments of radioactive sludge coming in to Wayne Disposal.
“What do you mean ‘new?’” said Kozma. “How many shipments do you know about?”
The connection wasn’t great, so she couldn’t tell if he said “a thousand,” or “thousands.”
Right now, no one in Michigan is exactly sure when the sludge will arrive. If the number of shipments really is in the thousands, pinpointing the moment of precise sludge arrival is kind of irrelevant. After an article published in the Detroit Free Press brought the story to a wider audience, Democrats in the Michigan state senate began circulating a petition asking the governor to ban the sludge.
Kozma, in the meantime, is part of a network of volunteers who are keeping an eye out for any suspicious shipments headed for Wayne Disposal. “I literally have my car packed and ready to go,” she said, in an interview.
“Drill cuttings, mud, sludge — we don’t want any of it coming here. I’m not saying that we wish this on other people. Pennsylvania has enough to deal with. My hope is that, if it doesn’t have a place to go, that this will stop.” [Emphasis added]
Front Page: Michigan landfill taking other states’ radioactive fracking waste by Keith Matheny, August 19, 2014
As other states ban landfills from accepting low-level radioactive waste, up to 36 tons of the sludge already rejected by two other states was slated to arrive in Michigan late last week.
As regulations tighten in other states, companies are turning to Michigan as the radioactive sludge’s dumping ground.
Though it’s unclear how frequently Wayne Disposal accepts out-of-state fracking sludge, the landfill’s website says handling it is one of its specialties. … The radioactivity, usually from the metal radium, accumulates from drill cuttings, the soil, rock fragments, and pulverized material removed from a borehole that may include fluid from a drilling process. It also can be present in flowback water, which is the brine or other fluid injected into shale formations during fracking that makes its way back to the surface.
Ohio and West Virginia, two states with more intensive fracking activity than Michigan, have strengthened regulations on how to store, treat, process and dispose of radioactive oil and gas drilling wastes. Pennsylvania also doesn’t allow the materials in its landfills. Each of the states leaves it to oil and gas developers to find a disposal site. As Ohio tightened its regulations, state officials listed the Wayne Disposal site as an option for Ohio drillers.
Pennsylvania and West Virginia — two other states experiencing a fracking boom — require radiation detectors at local landfills in large part to avoid improper disposal of radioactive drilling wastes.
‘A load of sludge’
Range Resources, an oil and gas company, accumulated the material from its drilling operations in Washington County, Pa. It was rejected from a landfill in western Pennsylvania earlier this year after heightened radiation was detected. The company then began taking the material to a landfill in West Virginia, but that state’s Department of Environmental Protection halted the practice in May, as it sought more information and instituted new rules tightening the state’s management of radioactive drilling wastes.
“This is basically a load of sludge that came from storage tanks that were cleaned out and had accumulated over time,” said John Poister, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. “It comes from the water used in hydraulic fracturing, and when it’s stored, the solids tend to sink to the bottom and become a sludge.” That also causes the natural radioactivity to accumulate, Poister said. “It’s higher in radioactive readings than can be accepted in landfills in Pennsylvania,” he said.
Matt Pitzarella, a spokesman for Range Resources, said the radioactivity levels in the sludge measured “between 40 and 260 microrems per hour” and were not detectable a few feet from the source. The sludge came in two containers capable of hauling 36 tons of material in total, though the boxes were not full, he said.
According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, continued, long-term exposure over a period of months to up to 100 microrems of radiation can lead to health effects including changes in blood chemistry, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, hair loss, diarrhea and bleeding. “There is no firm basis for setting a ‘safe’ level of exposure above background” radiation, the EPA’s website states.
Van Buren Township resident Harold Martin, who lives less than a quarter-mile from the landfill, said he understands the facility includes special liners to hold and protect the radioactive sludge and other hazardous materials. “If a bulldozer operator accidentally drops the blade on that liner and pierces it, do you think they’re going to report that?” he said. “They keep expanding and expanding.”
Low levels or not, the words “radioactive waste” concern Kristen Yoder. The Van Buren Township resident lives less than a mile from the landfill. “It scares me because I have children, and anything having to do with radiation possibly leaking — maybe into our water supply — is a big, potential problem.”
Yoder questioned Michigan’s involvement in accepting the material.
“Why can’t they dump it in their own states?” she said. “Why here?” [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
2007 Radioactive waste dumped
2014 Radioactive filter socks banned from North Dakota landfills. Where will they go?
Slides above from Diana Daunheimer presentations on her life with Angle Energy, now Bellatrix, near her home and farm (Didsbury, Alberta)
2012: Encana’s drilling waste dumped on foodland near Rosebud, Alberta, in the same field where Encana dumped their drilling waste the year previous. Please pass the bread.