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Pennsylvania will send radioactive waste to Michigan

Shane Thielges | Shale Plays Media

Two containers of radioactive waste from Marcellus shale gas drilling will soon be heading to Michigan for disposal.

Observer-reporter.com of Southern Pennsylvania reports that unusually high levels of radiation were detected in water and sludge stored at Range Resources’ Carter Impoundment in Mt. Pleasant Township last May. The site’s operators separated the water and sludge and deposited them into two containers, then cleaned the initial holding tank and added that wastewater to the containers. They are slated for shipment to a Michigan landfill within the next week.

John Poister, spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the waste containers are being sent away because regulations prevent local landfills from accepting too much material at one time. He stressed that the Department took this step because of the volume of offending material, not because it is highly irradiated.

Initially, hand-held devices detected 350 micro-rems per hour of radiation inside the roll-off box, which Poister said posed no health risk to nearby residents. More extensive characterization tests showed lower radiation levels between 40 and 260 micro-rems per hour.

“It’s not a constant number because there are different areas that they test,” Poister said.

Pennsylvania has faced a number of problems in discarding radioactive drilling waste. The Marcellus is an unusually radioactive shale, registering underground radiation at about three times the rate of comparable formations. Nearby states including West Virginia, Connecticut and New Jersey have indicated they will no longer accept radioactive waste from drilling operations.

Read more at observer-reporter.com: Drilling sludge to be shipped to Michigan

Related: States pass the buck on radioactive waste disposal

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