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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Who really benefits from "beneficial reuse"?

This StateImpactPA article reports that: 
the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA) wants the state Department of Environmental Protection to allow companies to reuse drill cuttings – rocks and dirt that are pried loose when a well is drilled – for construction and remediation projects.
Curiously, the article notes that none of PIOGA's member companies have offered samples for analysis. Could this be the reason why?
Drill cuttings can contain naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) and have been known to trigger radioactivity alarms when disposed of at landfills. NORM can become technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material (TENORM) when materials are mixed together, moved, or otherwise changed.
The story also notes that: 
The DEP is considering a similar permit application from Range Resources. The company wants permission to research using drill cuttings to build new well pads.
I blogged about that bad idea here. 

Allowing hazardous materials to be "stabilized" and used as fill or construction material is euphemistically called "beneficial reuse." But just who do such uses benefit? 

Call me a cynic, but when it comes to materials that set off radioactivity alarms, that can potentially leach radioactivity into the environment, and that otherwise would have to be disposed of as hazardous waste, my guess is that "beneficial reuse" doesn't benefit the environment or public health. Just company bottom lines. 

Shouldn't it be the other way around?

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