WDEA to Develop TENORM Study

January 4, 2020
The Executive Committee of the Western Dakota Energy Association approved a contract this week with AE2S Nexus to help western communities determine the amount of current and future low level radioactive waste produced by oilfield operations and how best to dispose of the material.
TENORM - technically-enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material - is created when materials removed from the earth are concentrated through industrial processes. TENORM in the oil industry is typically found in filter socks, tank bottom sludge, and scale that forms inside well pipes and equipment. 
Williams County recently rejected an application for a landfill north of Williston that would have disposed of the waste generated in North Dakota out of concerns that additional landfills may be needed in the future, and if any failed the county would become liable for dealing with the waste disposal facility. The county commission reached out to WDEA, which proposed a regional study to get a better handle on the issue.
The scope of work as proposed by AE2S and principal investigator Brent Bogar will include:
  • Gathering information on current production of materials (amount and locations);
  • Forecasting future production based on state forecasts of drilling activity;
  • Outlining permitting process for landfill facilities that accept materials at state and local level;
  • Producing educational materials including presentations, infographics and brochures for use by the association and its members;
  • Assisting in developing outreach program with members and industry;
  • Working with members of the association in developing review process for siting; and
  • Working with industry and state regulators to ensure data validity.
The contract provides that the work will be completed by September 30, but Bogar said he expects the study will be done before that date.
The Williams County TENORM facility was proposed by Secure Energy Services. Secure's General Manager Kurt Rhea provided an overview of the issue at a meeting last month (see December 20 newsletter). Rhea stressed that radioactivity levels in the material are extremely low, pointing out that other commonly used products such as kitty litter and coffee grounds have similar levels of radioactivity.
Click here to see the North Dakota DEQ page with additional information about TENORM.