Sunday, May 30, 2010

Coming to your Municipal Landfill – Radioactive Waste

From the RWMA Newsletter:
Is the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico a good reason for energy companies to reconsider the use of cheap practices and quick solutions? Apparently not so for the natural gas giants, who are drilling up the Northeast region that overlies a naturally radioactive Marcellus shale formation. The formation is estimated to contain a colossal 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. But how to dispose of the radioactive shale rock brought up from the drill hole? Why not your neighborhood solid waste landfill? The Marcellus shale formation has elevated radioactive concentrations due to naturally occurring uranium, approximately 25-30 times above background concentrations. Meanwhile, the produced water from these wells can contain 15,000 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter) of radium. The drinking water standard for radium is 5 pCi/L. What is to be done with the cuttings and the wastewater? Well, most Marcellus shale wells in Pennsylvania send the fluids to wastewater treatment plants and dispose of the dewatered drill cuttings in various landfills.
Read more