Monday, October 9, 2023

DEP Reports Shale Gas Operations Sent Over 138,000 Cubic Feet Of Radioactive TENORM Waste To Low-Level Radioactive Waste Facilities For Disposal In 2022 - Over 911,000 Cubic Feet Since 2017

On September 29, DEP told the
Low-Level Waste Advisory Committee shale gas operations in Pennsylvania sent 138,336 cubic feet of radioactive TENORM waste to the Waste Control Specialists low-level radioactive waste facility in Texas for disposal.

That amount is down from the 236,150 cubic feet of TENORM (Technically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material) sent in 2021.  

From 2017 to 2022, shale gas operators sent a total of 911,006 cubic feet of radioactive TENORM waste to low-level radioactive waste facilities for disposal.

Waste generators often send their low-level radioactive waste to more environmentally secure facilities when they are concerned about the potential cleanup liability in less environmentally secure facilities.

This volume of TENORM waste from shale gas operators does not include the radioactive TENORM shale gas and conventional oil and gas operators send to Pennsylvania’s landfills for disposal under DEP guidance.

Click Here for DEP table on TENORM waste.

DEP said TENORM waste is not technically within the purview of the Appalachian States Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact, but they track it anyway.

In 2022, DEP reported Pennsylvania generators of low-level radioactive waste-- primarily nuclear power plants-- sent 48,241 cubic feet of LLRW waste to out-of-state waste facilities for disposal. 

All four states in the Appalachian LLRW Compact-- Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia-- sent a total of 68,727 cubic feet of LLRW waste in 2022.

In terms of radioactivity, the TENORM waste represented just 1.80 Ci (curies), while the other low-level radioactive waste shipped for disposal from Pennsylvania represented 847 Ci.  

Click Here for a copy of DEP’s presentation.

More Background

In June 2022, DEP released updated guidance for handling radioactive waste from unconventional shale gas drilling operations going to solid waste processing and disposal facilities, but it does not cover conventional oil and gas operations which have tens of thousands more wells.  Read more here.

In addition to these requirements, DEP is also reviewing its policies for allowing the on-site disposal of radioactive and nonradioactive wastes where oil and gas well plugging will be done under the new federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law plugging program.  Read more here.

Currently, many conventional oil and gas drilling operations dispose of their waste, including drill cuttings which often meet the definition of TENORM waste, right on the drilling site.  Read more here.

A study released in May 2022 by Penn State found radiation levels of conventional oil and gas drilling wastewater disposed of by uncontrolled spreading on roads contained levels of radioactivity exceeding industrial radiation discharge standards.  Read more here.

A follow up study released by Penn State in August 2023 that tested the toxicity and chemical composition of brine water pumped from played-out conventional oil and gas wells and used for dust suppressants and winter road treatments and found they significantly exceeded environmental and health standards for 11 major chemical contaminants, including radioactive radium, just like brine water from conventional oil and gas wells regulated by DEP.  Read more here.

The issue of fracking operations shipping TENORM waste out-of-state for disposal also came up in an October 2021 Senate hearing, where David Allard, then Director of DEP’s Bureau of Radiation Protection said, “But, the potential for environmental impact from spills or leaks of TENORM contaminated material is real. DEP will continue to closely monitor and evaluate landfill leachate for radium content above natural background levels to ensure public health and safety.”  Read more here.

Related Articles - TENORM:

-- DEP: PA Fracking Operations Sent Nearly 236,000 Cubic Feet Of Radioactive TENORM Waste To Low-Level Radioactive Waste Facilities For Disposal In 2021 - 811,070 since 2016  [PaEN]

-- DEP: Potential For Environmental Impacts From Spills Or Leaks Of Radioactive Oil & Gas Waste Materials Is Real  [PaEN]

-- New Penn State Study Finds Runoff From Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Dumped On Unpaved Roads Contains Pollutants That Exceed Human-Health, Environmental Standards  [PaEN]

-- New Penn State Study: Brine Water Pumped From Played-Out Conventional Oil & Gas Wells And Used As Dust Suppressants, Winter Road Treatments Exceed Environmental, Health Standards, Just Like Conventional Oil & Gas Brine Water  [PaEN]

-- On-Site Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Waste Disposal Plans Making Hundreds Of Drilling Sites Waste Dumps  [PaEN]

-- Conventional Oil & Gas Drillers Dispose Of Drill Cuttings By ‘Dusting’ - Blowing Them On The Ground, And In The Air Around Drill Sites [PaEN]

-- DEP: Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Prompting Review Of On-Site Disposal Options For Oil & Gas Well Plugging Wastes; Radioactive Waste Disposal  [PaEN]

PA Oil & Gas Industry Public Notice Dashboards:

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - October 7 to 13 - More Abandoned Conventional Wells; Spills; Venting Gas; Emergency Well Plugging  [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - October 14 [PaEN] 

-- DEP Posted 55 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In October 14 PA Bulletin  [PaEN]

Related Articles This Week:

-- Conventional Oil & Gas Industry Still Fighting To Make Road Dumping Its Wastewater Legal; DEP Introduces Concepts Of A ‘Life Insurance Policy’ For Plugging Wells; Certified 3rd Party Inspectors  [PaEN]

-- The Derrick: Permanent Alternate Water Supply Being Considered For Village Of Reno, Venango County After Contamination By Conventional Oil Well Wastewater Spill  [PaEN] 

-- Vice Chair Of DEP Citizens Advisory Council Asks DEP To Report On University Of Pittsburgh Study That Found At Least 800,000 Tons Of Oil & Gas Production Waste Sent To Landfills Was Unaccounted For In One Year  [PaEN]

-- DEP Reports Shale Gas Operations Sent Over 138,000 Cubic Feet Of Radioactive TENORM Waste To Low-Level Radioactive Waste Facilities For Disposal In 2022 - Over  911,000 Cubic Feet Since 2017  [PaEN]

-- DEP Invites Comments At Nov. 14 Hearing On Air Quality Permit For Energy Transfer Natural Gas Liquids Marcus Hook Terminal In An EJ Area, Delaware County  [PaEN] 

-- Better Path Coalition: Oct. 18 Webinar Launching 9th Compendium Of Scientific, Medical Findings Demonstrating Risks, Harms Of Natural Gas Development, Infrastructure  [PaEN]

-- Sierra Club's Delaware County Team Hosts Oct. 16 Webinar On Lawsuit Challenging Law Preventing DEP From Protecting Public Health, Environment From Abandoned Conventional Oil & Gas Wells  [PaEN]

-- House Committee Meets Oct. 16 On Cryptocurrency Mining Moratorium Bill; Resolution To Study Potential Of Geothermal Energy From Abandoned Mine Pools  [PaEN] 

-- PJM Interconnection Formally Files Changes To Electric Capacity Market Rules With FERC Based Largely On Unreliability Of Natural Gas-Fired Power Plants During Winter Storm Elliot  [PaEN] 

-- DOE Awards Natural Gas-Based Hydrogen Hub In Western PA, Renewable/Nuclear Power-Based Hydrogen Hub In Eastern PA; Reactions  [PaEN]

NewsClips This Week:

-- The Allegheny Front: After Fayette County’s First Oil, Gas Wastewater Injection Well Permit Was Withdrawn From EPA; Residents Worry There May Be More To Come

-- TribLive: Some Plum Boro, Allegheny County Residents, Activists Push Back Against 2nd Oil, Gas Wastewater Injection Well

-- Post-Gazette: Plum Boro, Allegheny County, Environmental Group Go To Commonwealth Court Trying To Stop New Oil, Gas Wastewater Injection Well

-- Inside Climate News: Plum Boro, Allegheny County, Environmental Group Go To Commonwealth Court Trying To Stop New Oil, Gas Wastewater Injection Well

-- Pittsburgh Business Times: Plum Boro, Allegheny County Residents Battle Penneco, Zoning Board Over Oil, Gas Wastewater Injection Well

-- Warren Times: Land-For-Shale Gas Deal Between Game Commission, PA General Energy Will Result In New State Game Land In Warren County

-- PA Physicians For Social Responsibility: MarkWest Carpenter Natural Gas Compressor Station Natural Gas Leaks In Washington County [Video]

-- Observer-Reporter: Local Couple First Natural Gas Leaseholders To Contribute To Giving Fund Account Created By EQT Natural Gas At Washington County Community Foundation  [EQT Matches Donations]  [Check EQT’s DEP Compliance Record here. ]

-- Observer-Reporter: Range Resources Welcomes 150 Female Students To Annual Power Of Her Event  [Check Range Resources DEP Compliance Record here.

-- Reading Eagle: Chocolate Company Pushes Back Against OSHA Finding Company Was Responsible For Deaths From Natural Gas Explosion

-- The Daily Item Letter: Fossil Fuels Have A History Of Being Unreliable

-- Warren Times: Gasoline Prices Fall In Region, But Not In Warren County  [In Middle Of Conventional Oil Drilling Country]

[Posted: October 9, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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