TENORM Meeting A Rocky Debate – KVLY TV – Fargo

[colored_box color=”green”]DRC member, Lynn Wolff, being interviewed by KVLY TV[/colored_box]

TENORM Meeting A Rocky Debate

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Disposing of radioactive waste is a sensitive topic, especially for those looking out for the environment. But that’s the discussion the North Dakota Department of Health wanted to have Thursday night.

Thursday’s meeting was the last in a series of hearings regarding low-level radioactive material and how to get rid of it. It’s a by-product of the oil-drilling process and it is creating a bit of a controversy. But it’s not the type of radioactive waste you might be thinking about. Have you ever heard of TENORM?

It’s an acronym, standing for Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material. It’s the rocks, sediment and water involved with the fracking process. In order to dispose of it, it needs to pass through a filter sock, that then needs disposed of.

Everything around us in the world every day emits some amount of radioactivity, and the vast majority of time it’s harmless. North Dakota wants to raise the concentrations of this natural radioactivity in order to better transport and dispose of this material. Radiation levels are determined using the term Picocurie and right now North Dakota’s limit is 5 Picocuries per gram. The state wants to raise it to 50.

“Most of us would not even hesitate to prepare some food on somebody’s granite countertops. Granite countertops typically display 27 picocuries per gram of radioactivity…” according to a YouTube videoprovided by North Dakota Oil Can!

That means right now, that granite countertop is too radioactive to dispose of in North Dakota. You have to ship it out of state.

“It is not radiation from a nuclear plant, it is not radiation from even medical sources. It is naturally occurring radioactive material and the only reason we’re talking about it tonight is that it can become concentrated,” explained Kari Cutting with the North Dakota Petroleum Council.

Cutting said the federal government does not even regulate TENORM, and she feels the state is taking a very cautious approach. Not everyone’s on board with upping the concentrations though.

“Radioactive products or radioactive material, we know it’s harmful and we know it causes cancer. So we need to be very assured that our state is doing its best job to protect the citizens of the state,” said Lynn Wolff, member of the Dakota Resource Council.

Opponents also said if TENORM gets disposed in the state, it’s only a matter of time before it makes its way into the water supply or the air. If its ingested, a whole host of problems erupt.

The public comment period for this plan closes on February 6th.

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