The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is considering a petition for rulemaking from Core Laboratories LP requesting that the agency create a rule that would allow companies to dispose of hydraulic fracturing fluids that contain minimal levels of radioactive material without applying for a radioactive waste license.

According to the petition, the company seeks guidance from TCEQ on whether it can continue to use earthen pits to dispose of fracturing flowback containing radioactive tracers. In 2007, state authority to exempt the tracers from radioactive licensing requirements shifted from the state health department to TCEQ. TCEQ’s Office of Waste deputy director recommends that the agency initiate a rulemaking proceeding to discuss creating a rule that would offer the requested exemption only to those who already hold a state license to use, store and transfer radioactive material and would cover only tracers with a physical half-life of less than 90 days. TCEQ will vote December 5, 2012, on whether to formally begin the rulemaking process.