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News Picks : Shale-oil industry creating radioactive waste problem for North Dakota

By: Physics Today
16 April 2014
Wall Street Journal: North Dakota has been experiencing an oil boom from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of shale rock, but the process is generating more radioactive byproducts than the state is prepared to deal with. Despite having 500–600 injection wells currently in operation, North Dakota has no storage facility capable of handling radioactive waste. As a result, trash bags full of oil filter socks, which filter wastewater at drilling sites and can contain naturally occurring radioactive materials like radium, are turning up in abandoned buildings, at old gas stations, and along roadsides. Although the radiation levels from such waste are usually low, public outcry has prompted both the state and dump operators to take action by setting radiation exposure limits, screening garbage with radiation monitors, and imposing fines for illegal dumping.


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