Fracking waste deemed too radioactive for hazardous-waste dump
A truck carrying fracking waste was quarantined and then sent back to where it came from after its contents triggered a radiation alarm at a Pennsylvania hazardous-waste landfill. The truck’s load was nearly 10 times more radioactive than is permitted at the dump in South Huntingdon township.
The radiation came from radium 226, a naturally occurring material in the Marcellus Shale, which being fracked for natural gas in Pennsylvania and nearby states. “Radium is a well known contaminant in fracking operations,” writes Jeff McMahon at Forbes.
Township Supervisor Mel Cornell said the MAX Environmental Technologies truck was quarantined Friday after it set off a radiation alarm at MAX’s landfill near Yukon, a 159-acre site that accepts residual waste and hazardous waste.
[Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection] spokesman John Poister confirmed the drill cutting materials from Rice Energy’s Thunder II pad in Greene County had a radiation level of 96 microrem.
The landfill must reject any waste with a radiation level that reaches 10 microrem or higher.
“It’s low-level radiation, but we don’t want any radiation in South Huntingdon,” Cornell said.
Poister said DEP instructed MAX to return the materials to the well pad where it was extracted for subsequent disposal at an approved facility.
Pennsylvania is currently studying radiation issues associated with fracking of the shale and disposal of the industry’s waste.