RADIATION DANGER FOUND IN OILFIELDS ACROSS THE NATION
By KEITH SCHNEIDER, Special to The New York Times
Published: December 3, 1990
They’re finally paying attention to the radium that is in every oil and gas producing area and they’ve found the contamination is widespread but it’s worse in the South.
Compounding the problem in the South is that for years oil companies routinely poured billions of gallons of the water into thousands of unlined ponds
Ponds like these in North Texas:
Tests of wells in Louisiana and other Southern states have found that the oil-water mixture pumped to the surface contains radiation levels 5 to 30 times higher than the Government allows to be released from nuclear power plants. In contrast to the heavily regulated nuclear power industry, where emissions are strictly controlled and workers heavily protected, radiation in the oil industry has been wholly uncontrolled.
An investigation by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, revealed that Texas operators regulate themselves when it comes to NORM. That’s not news though, it’s just the Texas way.
Scientists consider the oil pits to be biological dead zones, where no vegetation or wildlife can exist. Officials say the greatest health threats from the pits come from airborne radium dust or from radon, a colorless, ordorless radioactive gas produced from the natural decay of radium.
The high radium levels found in the pit are comparable to those found at the nuclear weapons production plants and uranium mills around the country, which are now being cleaned up by the Energy Department.