With the recent boom in domestic oil and gas production, both the industry and states are increasingly faced with the issue of disposing of TENORM, technologically enhanced, naturally occurring radioactive material.

Indeed, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicates that each year the petroleum industry produces roughly 260,000 metric tons of waste in varying forms and that an estimated “30 percent of domestic oil and gas wells produce some TENORM.” States have wrestled with how to appropriately regulate the disposal of low-activity radioactive drilling waste and byproduct typically associated with oil and gas operations. Two regulatory models have emerged: (1) science-driven regulation, relying on comprehensive research studies and epidemiological data to guide disposal practices and (2) politically driven disposal restrictions that adopt either actual or de facto disposal bans. These two paths highlight the distinction between regulations based on science and those based on politics.

Read the article >>