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Fracking produces tons of radioactive waste. What should we do with it? The Marcellus Shale has transformed the Appalachian Basin into an energy juggernaut.

Fracking produces tons of radioactive waste. What should we do with it?

Even amid a recent drilling slowdown, regional daily production averages enough natural gas to power more than 200,000 U.S. homes for a year. But the rise of hydraulic fracturing over the past decade has created another boom: tons of radioactive materials experts call an “orphan” waste stream. No federal agency fully regulates oil and gas drilling byproducts — which include brine, sludge, rock, and soiled equipment — leaving tracking and handling to states that may be reluctant to alienate energy interests.

“Nobody can say how much of any type of waste is being produced, what it is, and where it’s ending up,” said Nadia Steinzor of the environmental group Earthworks, who cowrote a report on shale waste. (Earthworks has received funding from The Heinz Endowments, as has the Center for Public Integrity). The group is among several suing the U.S. Race to the bottom Twisting in the wind Critic under fire. 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.

Fracking waste deemed too radioactive for hazardous-waste dump

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. From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: 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 is currently studying radiation issues associated with fracking of the shale and disposal of the industry’s waste. Frackers are flushing radioactive waste into rivers. ‘Alarming’ presence of radioactivity found by Pennsylvania fracking wastewater study. Des documents confidentiels sur les dangers des gaz de schiste publiés par le «New York Times» Le Wikileaks des gaz de schiste.

Des documents confidentiels sur les dangers des gaz de schiste publiés par le «New York Times»

Vendredi 26 février, le New York Times publiait des données triées parmi 30.000 documents confidentiels produits par l’EPA, l’agence de protection de l’environnement américaine. Ces documents révèlent que les eaux rejetées par les forages de gaz de schiste sont radioactives à des taux qui peuvent atteindre 1.000 fois les limites autorisées pour l’eau de boisson. Selon les documents que s’est procurés le New York Times, les niveaux de radioactivité dans les eaux usées sont tels que les industriels ne peuvent pas les dépolluer complètement. La moitié des eaux serait donc envoyée dans les stations d’épuration traditionnelles, qui n’ont souvent pas les capacités de ramener les eaux à des niveaux correspondant aux normes requises pour l’eau de boisson. «Un des plus grands échecs des Etats-Unis dans la fourniture d’eau potable» Le New York Times pointe du doigt l’indulgence des autorités vis-à-vis des industries qui exploitent les 493.000 puits des Etats-Unis.