Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) is a bone-seeking carcinogen with a 1622 year half-life when airborne. According to this slide from a 2004 Texas Railroad Commission seminar series, District 8 has “high intensity” of NORM.
The NORM seminar series covered the Texas Railroad Commission’s “New Rules Governing NORM” but a 2007 report by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe revealed the “new rules” are really a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy on Barnett Shale Radioactive Waste. Like so many TRC “rules,” industry is on the honor system when it comes to protecting our environment.
Why would an operator report NORM when they know the disposal is costly and time consuming? There are only 3 facilities licensed for NORM disposal and none are in the Barnett Shale.
Today, my PARCHED newsletter arrived in my inbox with this headline:
HOT Water in the Paluxy
Radionuclides Close Hudson Oaks Municipal Water Well (Paluxy)
Private water well owners in the Hudson Oaks area might want to have their water wells tested for radionuclides if they are in the Paluxy formation.
Diamond Oaks municipal water well in Hudson Oaks (Parker County) was taken out of service after tests indicated the presence of radionuclides. Radium 226, radium 228 and Alpha radiation at entry point 007 tested in excess of the Maximum Contaminant Levels. According to Kristi Krieg, Drinking Water Specialist at the TCEQ, the well was closed after an enforcement letter was sent to the city on May 22, 2009. Krieg said that the affected Hudson Oaks water well is 230 feet deep in the Paluxy formation. Hudson Oaks Director of Operations Patrick Lawler estimated that the well, located near the New River Fellowship Church off Interstate 20, had been in service since the 1980s. The source of the contamination is unknown.
Radionuclides can be naturally occurring (NORM) but Skip Ferris of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said that if the contamination was from naturally occurring radiation, it would have always been there and “wouldn’t just show up after 20 years”. According to Texas Railroad Commission maps, the water well is approximately 1/4 mile from two ‘dry holes’ and three Devon Energy natural gas wells completed in November of 2007, August and September of 2008. According to the EPA, oil and gas drilling may sometimes produce radioactive waste in the form of produced water, drilling mud, sludge, slimes, or evaporation ponds and pits. Radionuclides in these wastes are primarily radium-226, radium-228, and radon gas. Alpha particles, bone seeking carcinogens, can pose a serious health threat if ingested or inhaled according to the EPA.
It is unusual for a water well to be closed due to radionuclides. According to Krieg, the City of East Chico is the only other municipal water well to close for radionuclides in the four county Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District area. The East Chico water well in Wise County closed earlier this year.
NORM was found at this disposal well after I insisted the site be re-inspected.
When Dick Ross requested NORM testing on the landfarm across the street from his home, he learned the TRC had lost their Geiger counter so they weren’t doing NORM tests.
Flowback often contains NORM. Braden Exploration used flowback to frack the Carter Gas Unit. I wonder what is in the vapors you can see in the video.
Public Health and Safety.