North Dakota takes slow, historic step toward radioactive waste
[link to bismarcktribune.com
The need is driven by the oil and gas industry, which generates tons of potentially radioactive waste every day without state rules that track how much and where it goes, or any site in North Dakota where it can legally be landfilled.Radioactivity is produced
when saltwater from oil wells, hydraulic fracture treatment fluids and other liquids concentrate on filter socks
, pipes and tank bottoms
Consultant Howard Trussell, of Wenck Associates, estimated 75 tons of potentially radioactive filter socks are generated every day
by the 500 wells where waste fluids are injected in the oil patch.
Trussell said it costs operators $20,000 a year at every site to put the socks in containers and transport them out of state. He said some waste is being put in landfills without testing and there is potential for illegal dumping
when tank bottoms are drained out onto the land.
Helms said as oil wells age, they require flushing with hundreds of gallons of maintenance water to dissolve salts in the well equipment — another reason to pursue a solution now.
There are 5,000 Bakken wells now, out of a projected 50,000
or so when development is complete.
“The maintenance water will become a larger volume over time,” Helms said.