No Time to Waste
Effective Management of Oil & Gas Field Radioactive Waste

Since the advent of horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and other advances in drilling technologies, the oil and gas industry has been linked to a rising number of health and environmental concerns: the contamination of drinking water aquifers, the flaring, venting, and leaking of methane, the proliferation of oil and saltwater spills, and the degradation of local roads and other infrastructure from overuse and misuse.

The list of negative impacts from oil and gas production is already lengthy. In recent years, though, yet another issue has surfaced. Many of the waste byproducts produced during the oil and gas extraction and production process are radioactive. They contain varying concentrations of naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM), or technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials (TENORM), which originate deep in the earth and can be mobilized upwards by the liquids involved in the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process. Such materials give off radiation, which can travel through air, water, and even some solid materials, and pose serious risks to both human and environmental health.



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© 2015 Western Organization of Resource Councils.
Photo courtesy of Bruce Farnsworth.