In North Dakota, oil is king and with great power comes great responsibility. The increased use of fracking in oil and gas production has shed light on the issue of what to do with the radioactive waste we produce on a daily basis and on a large scale. Where there is oil and gas in the earth, there will be Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (called “NORM”), which are released with produced water during the fracking process. These materials include uranium, thorium, radium, potassium-40, and lead. It is important to know how to properly dispose of items that come into contact with any of these potentially hazardous elements.
Radioactive waste includes any material that is either intrinsically radioactive, or has been contaminated by radioactivity, and that is deemed to have no further use. There are no landfills in North Dakota that are licensed to accept radioactive waste and as such, radioactive waste is not accepted at the City of Williston landfill. Radioactive waste produced in our many oil fields have to be trucked to locations in other states that have been certified to accept and contain this type of waste. Some examples of radioactive items are filter socks, rags, gloves, etc – even clean filter socks cannot be disposed of at the city landfill. Waste materials like filter socks are classified as technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material (TENORM). These tend to collect concentrated amounts of natural radiation during the extraction process. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to radioactivity from TENORM waste is low-risk for people who live and work nearby.
Some individuals and organizations that produce radioactive waste break the rules and essentially the law by discarding of restricted matter in abandoned buildings, ditches, and inconspicuous areas. Think twice when attempting to do so because there are ways to identify the level of radioactivity in your garbage disposal. Both the landfill and garbage trucks have geiger’s to prevent the disposal of radioactive waste in the wrong places
If your tasks or your company produce radioactive waste, there are companies that specialize in oilfield waste that will provide containers, pick up, and disposal of radioactive material
Other sanitation companies strictly pick up and dispose of MSW (municipal solid waste) only.