Friday, February 26, 2010

Radioactive waste from oil and gas drilling more likely to occur in the Barnett Shale

Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe from the Denton RC uncovered this danger of NORM in the Barnett Shale in an article written over two years ago! Read her article Gas Drilling's Dirty Side Effect

One factor is that organic-rich shale such as the Barnett Shale has higher levels of uranium. Another factor is the high level of salt in the wastewater produced along with the gas. As a gas well is producing, the variable pressure also helps free NORM from the shale, bond with other elements, such as barite and calcium carbonate, and travel to the surface along with the gas.

In this info sheet from the EPA, it addresses NORM naturally-occurring radioactive material and TENORM technologically-enhanced naturally-occurring radioactive material.

According to the EPA, not all wells or sites may have radioactive waste but the upper Midwest and the Gulf Coast (that would include the Barnett Shale) are more likely to have this problem.

The radiation comes from naturally-occurring radioactive material (NORM) in the underground rock and sediment. When companies drill for gas or oil, the produced fluids, including water, may contain radionuclides, primarily radium-226, radium-228, and radon. The radon gas may be released to the atmosphere, while the produced water and mud containing radium are placed in ponds or pits for evaporation, re-use, or recovery.

The radium brought up during drilling can also decay to radon gas, which a worker can inhale and can raise the risk of lung cancer. Radium-226 emits gamma radiation and the lead emits low-level energy gamma radiation and beta particles. Gamma radiation can also penetrate the skin and raise the risk of cancer. Following worker safety guidance will reduce total on-site radiation exposure.

We have talked about Radioactive Water before
Another North Texas Town Has Radioactive Water
Hudson Oaks Water is "Hot"
Produced Waste Water, Pipelines and Tank Batteries
Gas Drilling Produced Waste Water is Radioactive!

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