Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Play

Connecting health outcomes to climate solutions and lower utility bills, Engagement Center finding success near Boston's troubled 'Mass and Cass' and more protections coming for PA Children's Service providers.

Play

Georgia breaks a state record for early voting, Democrats are one step closer to codifying same-sex marriage, and Arizona county officials refuse to certify the results of the midterm elections.

Play

A water war in Southwest Utah has ranchers and Native tribes concerned, federal solar subsidies could help communities transition to renewable energy, and Starbucks workers attempt to unionize.

Hot Sludge: Problems With Recycling Frack Waste

Play

Thursday, April 14, 2016   

CHARLESTON, W.Va - Recycling of fracking waste can reduce water use and pollution from the wells, but only by creating low-level nuclear waste too hot for landfills. One fracking-waste recycler is operating near Fairmont and another is planned for Doddridge County. They take the brine, mud and drill cuttings from the wells and extract clean water and salt. The problem is that the uranium and radium that occur naturally underground get concentrated in the remaining sludge.

Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke University has studied the hot sludge.

"Once you concentrate all the radioactivity in sludge, the level will be very high," he said. "Something that you need to dispose in only designated low-radioactive-waste disposal sites."

The recyclers proudly point out that the clean water can be reused by the drillers and the salt can be sold for deicing roads. And they say recycling will reduce the need for waste-disposal injection wells. They have not made clear what they plan to do with the sludge.

In February, Kentucky state officials warned that state's landfills not to take what are known as technologically enhanced, naturally occurring radioactive material (TENORM). Twelve hundred cubic yards of sludge from Fairmont Brine Processing had been illegally buried in a landfill there last fall. No one from the Fairmont company returned a call requesting comment.

Vengosh stresses that TENORM can be buried in such a way that it is disposed of safely. But he said the radioactivity is high enough to leech out of a regular municipal landfill.

"If it's isolated, sure, it doesn't matter," he said. "But it would be a hundred times what we see in produced water and flow-back water, which is high by itself."

Vengosh said the issue of naturally occurring radioactive waste is not unique to fracking, that other oil and gas wells in West Virginia probably also produce it. He said some of the hot elements in TENORM can have a half-life of a thousand years, and even after that the sludge is probably not safe.

"Some of the secondary, or daughter or granddaughter isotopes coming from the decay are extremely toxic by themselves," he added. "The radioactivity would generate a legacy that could be over thousands of years."


get more stories like this via email

In New Hampshire, firearm deaths have climbed by 5.8% from 2015 to 2020, the 47th largest increase among states. According to the CDC, a total of 128 people died from firearm injuries in the state in 2020, up from 121 in 2015. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Human-rights activists in New Hampshire say the growing number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills at the Statehouse is encouraging right-wing extremists to intimida…


Environment

The North Carolina Utilities Commission is expected to release its final Carbon Plan by the end of the year. Critics say the current plan, which …

Social Issues

As a way to reward those who have stayed in the child care field, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is offering $66 million in …


Students in the Career Launch Program learn a trade through working several hours a week on a flexible schedule, with competitive wages increased at regular intervals. (Monkey Business/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

With the cost of a four-year college education approaching six figures at some institutions, many students are looking at apprenticeships to train …

Health and Wellness

Not everybody gets a holiday break, especially caregivers, but advocates of paid family medical leave in Maine say momentum is building for a plan to …

Wages for healthcare workers in the U.S., primarily women of color, are among the lowest in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. (DraganaGordic/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Women of color working in health care are the most likely to lose out on wages they have earned because employers fail to pay what they owe, …

Health and Wellness

The American Lung Association has released its 2022 State of Lung Cancer report, which shows Indiana has some work to do. The leading cause of lung …

Social Issues

November is National Family Caregivers Month, which focuses attention on the unpaid care work of family members. The care provided by families …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021