ODNR Tests confirm Highly Elevated Radioactivity Levels  in Oilfield Brine used as Road Deicers

After being forced to use the Ohio Open Records law, Ohio environmentalists obtained testing results conducted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that measured the radioactive content of oilfield brine. ODNR tested brine waste from three categories of oil and gas wells:

•    Brine that was produced from 118 Conventional wells drilled vertically to access shallow oil and gas deposits directly beneath them.
•    Brine that was produced from 25 Horizontal wells drilled to follow the deep geological layers of the shale deposits.
•    Brine that was produced from 8 Out-of-State wells and sent to Ohio for disposal.

These151 samples taken from 150 wells were tested for concentrations of Radium 226 and Radium 228

ODNR’s Own Testing Confirms what opponents of Ohio’s oil and gas development policies have said for decades:

Free Road Brine and Brine-based Deicers and Dust Suppressors use waste that is loaded with Cancer-Causing Radioactive Elements.

Results from tests have revealed that this brine contains dangerously high levels of cancer inducing radioactivity. Radium 226 is especially treacherous because it is soluble in water. The human body treats it like calcium and deposits it into the skeleton where it causes painful debilitating tumors, broken bones and can metastasize into other parts of the body. About half of all bone cancers result in death.

Because radium is water soluble it can find its way into drinking water sources, especially in rural areas where water is drawn from shallow wells, ponds, creeks, and springs. Cash strapped townships are accepting this hazard because it is free and they have been led to believe it is safe by proponents of the Oil and Gas Industry.

The State of Ohio should immediately stop promoting this practice and begin providing all our townships with road salt funded by a tax on oil and gas operations. With the aid of policies, laws and regulations enacted by our legislators our counties have been stripped of local control and adequate funding. They have been reduced to colonies of the gas and oil industry. This brine spreading policy is a direct threat to the health of Ohio families.

Exposure to even low levels of radium can result in an increased incidence of bone, liver, and breast cancer. The EPA and the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation, have stated that radium is a known human carcinogen.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources tests show combined Radium-226 and Radium-228 in all 151 well samples.
148 of these samples exceed the 120 pCi/L Environmental Discharge Limit.

All 151 samples tested exceed the federal drinking water standard of 5 pCi/L. (pCi/L = picocuries per Liter, a measure of radioactivity levels.)

 All 25 Horizontal wells exceeded both the Environmental
 Discharge Limits and the Federal Drinking Water Standards.

All 118 Conventional wells exceeded the Drinking Water Standard. 115 of these wells exceeded the Environmental Discharge Limits.

All 8 Out-of-state wells exceeded the Drinking Water Standard. 7 of the 8 wells exceeded the Environmental Discharge Limits.

High levels of radioactivity can do more damage to smaller people. The body of a small woman would be more susceptible to harm than to a large man and growing children would be most severely impacted. An expectant mother would face grave risks to her unborn child. Other risk factors can also result in certain individuals being more vulnerable than others to the effects of radiation.
ODNR has long maintained that brine spreading on roads is safe because the waste used is produced by conventional wells and not unconventional horizontal wells.  The testing proves this is not true.

Once released into the environment Radium 226 remains dangerous for centuries. It has a half-life of 1600 years.  This means that in the year 3619 any of this element that is spread today will still be emitting 50% of the radiation levels it is currently releasing. Radioactivity levels in one of the samples tested from a conventional well was over 78 times higher than permitted by the Environmental Discharge Levels. By 3619 it would still be 36 times higher than allowed by the Environmental Discharge Levels. Radium does not just disappear.

After brine has been spread on a paved road or sidewalk you can see the white precipitate that is left after the brine dries. This is the salt and other soluble elements that remain after the water evaporates. If the source of the brine was the Utica or the Marcellus Shale then based on the ODNR tests one of the soluble elements is Radium 226. 

More information on
Radioactive Brine
America's Radioactive Secret
Justin Noble
Rolling Stone Magazine
January 21, 2002 - 7 Am ET

This article was released by Rolling Stone Magazine for publication on January of 2020. The author, Justin Noble, spent 20 months researching the impacts of oilfield waste on communities, on workers, and on the environment. 
to read the article.

Dr. Julia Weatherington Rice explains the science and the dangers associated with radioactive brine
to see the video.
Buckeye Brine Water Monitoring Wells
Report Their First Test Results
The three water monitoring wells that were just drilled on the Buckeye Brine Injection well site have reported their first water test results. They will be reporting on the water quality near the injection wells throughout the year. Below is a summary page of their conclusions. The Full Report is HERE on the Library Page.

VOC - Volatile Organic Compounds: chemicals that both vaporize into air and dissolve in water. (e.g. benzene)

MCL - Maximum Contaminant Level: the maximum amount of a certain chemicals allowed by the EPA in drinking water. (e.g. lead)

SMCL - Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level: EPA suggested maximum levels of chemicals that affect the taste and appearance of water but pose minimal health threats. (e.g. salt, iron) Levels are not enforcable by law.
OEPA Grants 
Class 1 Waste Permits 
to Buckeye Brine
Below you will find a notice from the OEPA that announces permitting the conversion of two Class 2 waste injection wells into Class 1 non-hazardous waste wells that are located on Airport Road across from Walmart on SR 36. CECA will be holding a meeting shortly for our members and interested parties to discuss what we can do.

A second notice is included that presents public  comments and OEPA's response.

We are also including the finalized permit that will be in effect from June 25th, 2019 to June 25th, 2024.

Requests for informaton:
CECA has requested copies of all Notices of Deficiency and other communications that direct Buckeye Brine to take actions or make adjustments to meet regulations or directives from the OEPA to comply with the permit. We are also requesting Buckeye Brine's responses. 

We have asked to know if the well casing failures in both wells have been repaired. At the time of the public comment period one of the wells in question had 900 feet of cement missing below the surface. The long string casing in the other well had separated.

We will post OEPA's responses to these and other questions. 


What is Class 1 Waste?

It's complicated.

Class 1 waste is divided into two categories; Hazardous and Non-Hazardous. Hazardous waste is dangerous even in storage and must be carefully monitored. It is also much more likely to cause mortality in the event of accidents or contact. Although the categories are different, the wells that they inject into are identical in construction whether they are permitted for Hazardous or Non-Hazardous waste. The only difference is the permit. A Class 1 Non-Hazardous well can obtain a permit to become a Class1 Hazardous well.  

Certain very toxic chemicals are identified and listed as Hazardous and must go into a Class 1 well that is permitted for hazardous waste. The EPA sets standards for maximum contaminant levels for chemicals in drinking water which are usually expressed in ppm, (parts per million).  1 ppm  =  (1 / 1,000,000), is about 1 drop in 40 gallons of water. Some extremely deadly chemicals like Dioxin are listed at 30 ppq, (30 parts per quadrillion. (30 / 1,000,000,000,000,000.) These are Hazardous wastes based on TOXICITY.

A substance must also be injected into a Class 1 Hazardous well if it is a low level RADIOACTIVE waste. (High level radioactive waste is disposed of in special facilities.)

Any BIOLOGICAL waste like blood, surgical drainage or body fluids is Hazardous waste.

What about waste that doesn’t fall into these three categories? Any other waste that is not listed as Hazardous, is not Radioactive, and not Biological must be classified into Hazardous or Non-Hazardous waste. A set of criteria has been established that is used to analyze the waste to determine its classification. A waste specialist uses the following broad guidelines to make the determination:

CONCENTRATION – Is a there chemical or substance present in the waste in a strong intense state that would require injection into a Hazardous well or is it in a weaker less active condition allowing disposal in a Non-Hazardous well?

COMBINATION – Can a chemical in the waste be mixed with other substances that are injected without causing chemical reactions? Is it compounded or mixed with other substances that make it unstable?

VOLATILITY – Can a chemical or substance in the waste combust, explode, or react to create a gas?

CORROSIVENESS – Can a chemical or substance in the waste reduce or oxidize other components of the waste or the well infrastructure to cause reactions or damage?

Chemicals that are not a listed Hazardous toxin, not Radioactive, and not Biological can be injected into either a Class1 Hazardous well or a Class 1 Non-Hazardous well depending on how it is analyzed and classified using the above criteria.

It seems that Class 1 Non-Hazardous waste can contain more than just curds and whey, and soap bubbles, and pickle juice.

Click on the red text above to read
Must See Videos
Reports on the record of the Class 1 Well operations in Winona, Texas by Gibraltar Chemical Resources, a company
run during the 1990's by the owners and operators of Buckeye Brine.