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Ohio: Proposal would require oil, gas companies to test shale drilling wastes for radiation

By  Spencer Hunt The Columbus Dispatch Tuesday February 12, 2013 3:56 PM

A proposed state law would require oil and gas companies to test the crushed rock, dirt and mud from their drilling operations for radiation before they could dump the wastes in any landfill.

The proposed law, supported by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Health, was included as part of Gov. John Kasich’s two-year budget plan.

Health and natural resources officials said they believe most oil and gas companies already do this type of testing.

“Now they will be required to do it,” said Michael Snee, chief of the health department’s bureau of radiation protection.

Oil and gas drilling can produce wastes that contain radium and other naturally occurring radioactive materials. The amount of radioactivity can build in drilling “muds,” lubricants used to help in the drilling process.

State health officials told American Landfill in May that two truckloads of waste sand from two Greene County, Pa., shale wells must instead go to a hazardous waste landfill.

Lab tests the drilling company provided to landfill operators showed radium at levels 36 times higher than the state’s safety standard.

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