Elevated radioactivity levels found at PA fracking waste site


Interesting, but one crucial piece of information is missing: the actual volume of irradiated wastewater, or at least flow in m^3/second.

And, of course, the obligatory link to xkcd and their excellent Radiation infographic:


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It’s almost as if a process in which high pressure water is used to fracture rocks underground results in a lot of wastewater full of the sorts of compounds you find underground inside rocks!

A few tips, folks. Ordinary mining produces elevated radioactivity levels. The USA’s large number of coal fired electrical plants produce (massive by comparison) elevated radioactivity levels. Earthquakes produce elevated radioactivity levels. Banana farming produces elevated radioactivity levels.

Fracking is terrible for the environment, but the miniscule increases in radioactivity aren’t why.

And of all the places to see a headline and news blurb like this, I was not expecting BB…


Not exactly an unknown issue: TENORM (technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material)
Oil and Gas Production Wastes | Radiation Protection | US EPA

Many drinking water treatment plants need to be licensed now because of the TENORM that is separated as part of the treatment.

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So homeowners will now have tap water that is flammable and glows in the dark.


I love how they get “NORM” and “naturally occurring” in their nomenclature. That was certainly no accident.

Can’t imagine how they’d classify the Deepwater Horizon oil spill-- that oil pouring out was certainly technologically enhanced and certainly naturally occurring…

I seem to recall a calculation, back in the 1980s, that compared the radiation exposure, both in total mass of emitters, and total radiated energy, between running a coal-fired plant of capacity “x” megawatts, and an equally-sided nuclear plant.

The amusing bit was, for the nuclear plant, you ground the entire plant, fuel and all, to particulate size, and released it into the atmosphere.

The coal plant STILL beat the nuke plant, by a factor of 5 to 10 times, depending on the source and type of the coal.

And, in fact, a lot of the buzz over the Thorium cycle is that a major source of Thorium is fly ash from coal powerplants. . .

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It actually goes back to the messed up way that radioactive material is regulated in the US… Instead of just regulating “radioactive material”, they set up different regulatory systems for naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), accelerator produced radioactive material (ARM), and reactor produced radioactive material (byproduct material) – even though you can potentially have the same isotope made by all three ways. Regulation of naturally occurring stuff is also subdivided into stuff that can potentially be made into reactor fuel (source material) and the other stuff found in nature. NORM and ARM are usually grouped together as NARM. Of course, there is yet another regulatory system for regulating radiation producing machines like x-ray machines and accelerators. Up until a few years ago, NARM was regulated by the individual states and byproduct material was regulated by the federal govt, NRC, (or states that were approved by the NRC) – I think that some of the NORM stuff might still be left to the states.

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