Based on news reports by Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal: Adding to the list of potential ill effects of hydraulic fracturing or fracking which include ground water contamination and enhanced seismic activity (earthquakes), the generation of radioactive waste becomes the latest topic of debate. The shale rock formations, which house the large quantities of oil and gas that are being unlocked across the US, often contain higher levels of radium as compared to traditional oil fields. When water (along with sand and chemicals) is used to crack open these formations to release the hydrocarbons, the radium is also displaced to the surface along with the water which then comes in contact with the soil and surface equipment. The “spent filters” used to strain this radium-laden water also pose a disposal problem since elevated levels of radiation have been detected in their vicinity. While some regulations are in place to ensure proper disposal and avoid illegal dumping, a further strengthening of the rules is likely in the states experiencing intense fracking activity.
Read the article from Bloomberg.
Read the article from The Wall Street Journal.