Pay no attention to those concerned for your health, the Government is watching out for you.
“There is no one federal agency that specifically regulates the radioactivity brought to the surface by oil-and-gas development,” an EPA representative says. In fact, thanks to a single exemption the industry received from the EPA in 1980, the streams of waste generated at oil-and-gas wells — all of which could be radioactive and hazardous to humans — are not required to be handled as hazardous waste.
Ok, there is a reason for this. The government is not hiding anything.
In 1988, the EPA assessed the exemption — called the Bentsen and Bevill amendments, part of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act — and claimed that “potential risk to human health and the environment were small,” even though the agency found concerning levels of lead, arsenic, barium, and uranium, and admitted that it did not assess many of the major potential risks. Instead, the report focused on the financial and regulatory burdens, determining that formally labeling the “billions of barrels of waste” as hazardous would “cause a severe economic impact on the industry.” Effectively, the EPA determined that in order for oil-and-gas to flourish, its hazardous waste should not be defined as hazardous.
Say that again?
Effectively, the EPA determined that in order for oil-and-gas to flourish, its hazardous waste should not be defined as hazardous.
It’s hazardous, but it’s not? What the hell?
One day in 2017, Peter pulled up to an injection well in Cambridge, Ohio. A worker walked around his truck with a hand-held radiation detector, he says, and told him he was carrying one of the “hottest loads” he’d ever seen. It was the first time Peter had heard any mention of the brine being radioactive.
The first time. Typical of the American Corporation. And here we have it. They know it’s radioactive and they are letting it go everywhere.
In an investigation involving hundreds of interviews with scientists, environmentalists, regulators, and workers, Rolling Stone found a sweeping arc of contamination — oil-and-gas waste spilled, spread, and dumped across America, posing under-studied risks to the environment, the public, and especially the industry’s own employees. There is little public awareness of this enormous waste stream, the disposal of which could present dangers at every step — from being transported along America’s highways in unmarked trucks; handled by workers who are often misinformed and underprotected; leaked into waterways; and stored in dumps that are not equipped to contain the toxicity. Brine has even been used in commercial products sold at hardware stores and is spread on local roads as a de-icer.
And they are not reporting the risks.
“They’ve known about this since the development of the gamma-ray log back in the 1930s,” says Stuart Smith, referencing a method of measuring gamma radiation. A New Orleans-based lawyer, Smith has been trying cases pertaining to oil-and-gas radioactivity for 30 years and is the author of the 2015 book Crude Justice. In Smith’s first case, in 1986, a six-month-pregnant Mississippi woman was sitting on the edge of her bathtub and her hip cracked in half. Tests showed the soil in her vegetable garden had become contaminated with radium from oil-field pipes her husband had cleaned in their yard. “They know,” Smith says. “All of the big majors have done tests to determine exactly what risks workers are exposed to.”
Her hip cracked in half. No, nothing strange here.
Keep supporting the use of oil and gas. It’s jobs. We get to work while we are poisoned.