RadWaste Vol. 7 No. 35
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RadWaste Monitor
Article 7 of 9
September 19, 2014

Michigan State Lawmakers Introduce Bill Against Fracking Waste

By Jeremy Dillon

Jeremy L. Dillon
RW Monitor
9/19/2014

A Michigan state senator introduced legislation last week that would prevent the disposal of any radioactive waste resulting from fracking activities in the state’s landfills. In the past decade, increased activity in oil and gas exploration, especially in the Marcellus Shale and Bakkan Shale formations, has increased volumes of Technologically-Enhanced Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM) in states where that type of waste did not regularly occur. This increase has resulted in states’ shipping the waste out-of-state for disposal in landfills with higher thresholds for volumes and concentrations, like those in Michigan. “With Michigan being surrounded by twenty percent of the world’s freshwater, the threats from this type of waste are especially disturbing,” Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D) said in a statement. “I hope that my colleagues will take swift action on this legislation to help prevent this dangerous waste from entering our communities before it is too late.” The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes.

A similar bill has been introduced in Michigan’s House by Rep. Douglas Geiss (D). “It is imperative that stricter rules be implemented,” Geiss said in a statement last month. “We must take action to safeguard our Great Lakes and our access to fresh, clean water; we must preserve the environmental health of our state that is so critically important to the vitality of industries from agriculture to tourism and, more importantly, to the well-being of every individual in Michigan.” Geiss also noted that Michigan’s regulations for disposal were higher than Pennsylvania’s and Ohio’s regulations by ten times their picocurie limit.

The public outcry from the proposed disposal of out-of-state fracking sludge prompted Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder to order the state’s Department of Environmental Quality last month to create a panel of experts to review the state’s low-level radioactive waste disposal policy. Snyder wants to make sure Michigan’s regulations of the TENORM disposal are sufficiently protective of the public and environment. The outcry also prompted U.S. Ecology to stop shipments of the TENORM waste to its RCRA landfill outside Detroit, which it acquired in its acquisition of The Environmental Quality Company earlier this year. The bill to prevent fracking waste would hurt US Ecology business, especially with its focus on the material for disposal in the RCRA facility. “We respect the legislative process and are supporting the state’s review of standards for TENORM waste disposal in Michigan,” EQ spokesman Dave Crumrine said. “Our Wayne Disposal facility is a highly engineered RCRA permitted hazardous waste facility capable of safe and responsible disposal of low activity TENORM waste.”

 

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