WDEA Will Consider TENORM Study

December 20, 2019
The Western Dakota Energy Association will consider formalizing a proposal next month aimed at developing a regional strategy for western counties to deal with low-level radioactive waste from oilfield drilling operations.
WDEA hosted an informational session this week at the request of Williams County to provide other oil-producing counties details of a waste disposal site proposed about 15 miles north of Williston.
The Williams County facility was proposed by Secure Energy Services to handle TENORM - technically-enhanced naturally occuring radioactive material. Its application has been put on hold by the county commission pending the outcome of the regional review. Secure's General Manager Kurt Rhea provided an overview of the issue during the informational session. Rhea said TENORM is found in filter socks that are used at saltwater disposal wells, and it is also concentrated in pipes and tank bottoms in processing facilities.
Click here to listen to Rhea's comments.
Rhea pointed out many manmade materials also contain low amounts of radioactivity including kitty litter and Coleman lanterns.
Click here to listen to Rhea's comments.
Rhea said low level amounts of radioactivity can be found literally everywhere, "in the water and the tanks on your farm, uranium in your meat and potatoes, Potassium-40 in bananas and in your body." He said the largest exposure comes from medical facilities, noting that "half of our exposure comes from going to the doctor and the hospital."
At its meeting following the TENORM session, WDEA's Executive Committee heard a proposal from Brent Bogar, the association's long-time consultant now working for AE2S. Bogar proposed gathering information about where and how much TENORM is being produced in western North Dakota, to develop a "heat map" that shows its location. He said he would want to have a commissioner from each of the four major oil-producing counties, and work cooperatively with the Department of Mineral Resources and Department of Environmental Quality to develop guidelines and recommendations for handling TENORM waste. The proposed scope of work, to be considered at the WDEA's next board meeting on January 22, would also include recommendations for public education. 
Click here to read Renée Jean's story about the meeting in the Williston Herald.