Cortland Standard editorial on Landfill options May 26, 2011Text
Cortland Landfill Proposal:
The public will have a chance to review the pros and cons of selling, leasing or expanding the Cortland County landfill at a public hearing set for 6 pm Dec. 6 at the County Office Building auditorium. A Cortland Standard editorial (Oct. 25, 2010, p.5) lists some of the things the citizens and the county government should consider in making this decision including control, truck traffic, liability and cost containment. A further consideration is what materials might be brought to the landfill now that industrial gas drilling is a reality in PA and possibly in NY The Ensol Report on Landfill Alternatives was on the Cortland County Website but has been removed.
- October 6, “Implication of Oil and Gas Waste on Solid Waste Planning Units,” Larry Shilling. Casella. 10/7/2010 Report: New York State Association for Solid Waste … Oct 7, 2010 …Report: New York State Association for Solid Waste Management Fall Conference… By Erik Miller, OCCA Executive Director. http://occainfo.org/documents/ReportNYSASWM.pdf
- Disposal of low-level radioactive Marcellus shale drilling waste in New York landfills.
- Residents Take Chemung County Landfill Worries to the Judge Concerns include pests, odor, radiation and groundwater contamination.by Sue Smith-Heavenrich. Broader View Weekly, May 6, 2010. http://www.tiogagaslease.org/images/BVW_05_06_10.pdf
- (Legal brief-abridged summary) This is a summary of the situation in Chemung Co. where the county landfill is leased to a private company under a contract with the county. The contract failed to cover some details that citizens found to create health, safety and noise violations and asked for a ruling from the DEC. Objections centered around expansion of the landfill, acceptance of radioactive materials from Marcellus wells in PA, and reduced acceptance of local municipal waste in order to receive higher profits from the drilling waste.
- Once drill cuttings and other radioactive waste is delivered to your landfill, it is expensive to stop it: Proposal for the Gas Task Force undertake fundraising to have the Sierra Club join in the court appeal of the Chemung County landfill matter to get the issue of the radioactivity of the drill cuttings going into New York landfills addressed. The attorney for the citizens’ group that brought the initial administrative proceeding, Gary Abraham, estimates about $15,000 would be needed for the court appeal and another $10,000 for a possible appellate court review. The Chemung citizens’ group, RFPLC, has already spent over $60,000 in expert witness fees and attorney’s fees, and are not able to pay more.PDF
- Radioactivity in Marcellus Shale FULL DOCUMENT HERE: http://www.rwma.com/Marcellus%20Shale%20Report%205-18-2010.pdf
Report prepared for
Residents for the Preservation of Lowman and Chemung (RFPLC)
By Marvin Resnikoff, Ph.D.,
Ekaterina Alexandrova, Jackie Travers
Radioactive Waste Management Associates
May 19, 2010
Radioactive Waste Management Associates
526 W. 26th Street #517
New York, NY 10001
- Radioactivity in Marcellus Shale FULL DOCUMENT HERE: http://www.rwma.com/Marcellus%20Shale%20Report%205-18-2010.pdf
- 7.0 Conclusions
1. The hazard associated with the disposal of incompletely dewatered Marcellus shale drill cuttings and drilling fluid in a municipal landfill has not been fully evaluated by NYSDEC. The Marcellus shale has elevated radioactive concentrations, approximately 25-30 times above background concentrations. The drilling and dewatering processes enhance the concentration of radium in the drilling fluid. Rock cuttings that hold up to 20% of this fluid are still considered solid waste and will be disposed of in the County landfill. The introduction of this radioactive material into the landfill will give rise to serious problems due to the generation of radon, radiologically contaminated leachate and to potential reuse of the site in the future. NYSDEC regulations regarding the radiation doses from a decommissioned site and the allowable concentrations of radium in soil will be exceeded. In our opinion, these radioactive rock cuttings and associated radioactive drilling fluids belong in a radioactive landfill, such as the Envirocare landfill in Clive,16 CoPhysics Corporation, 2010
Utah. Radium-contaminated waste is similar to U mill tailings, which the Utah landfill is designed for.
2. Major uncertainties have not been resolved. The findings of the CoPhysics report conflict with borehole gamma readings and with the independent measurements of the USGS. The CoPhysics report does not explain where the cuttings were found and processed. The measurement methodology, EPA 701.1, and the use of a surrogate Bi-214 to measure Ra-226 are not appropriate for this case.
3. Worker exposure to radioactivity at the working face of a landfill that disposes such waste can be expected to exceed health-base dose limits set by EPA and NRC.
4. The waste at issue can be generated only by means of industrial processes in two gross phases: (a) fluids with chemical additives are forced into subterranean shale formations under high pressure, where they leach out NORM, making the fluids much more radioactive than they were before injection; solid waste is generated from the return waste water only by means of another set of industrial processes, including a shale shaker, centrifuge, and perhaps other mechanisms.
5. The drilling fluids that provide the source for the solid waste are chemically changed by pressurized contact with NORM, concentrating the NORM in the fluids. For example, barium is added to drilling mud pumped into a horizontal wellbore in order to extract radium sulfate from cuttings. This solid may be disposed of with the rock cuttings.
6. Based on RESRAD calculations, the radiation exposures received by a future resident farmer will exceed allowable regulatory limits. The radium concentrations in soil will exceed EPA regulatory limits. NYSDEC has not examined the environmental and health and safety implications of disposing of shale cuttings in a solid waste landfill. In our opinion, the radioactive scale cuttings and fluids are more appropriately deposited in a radioactive landfill designed for this disposal.
EXCERPT:3.0 Radionuclide Content of the Marcellus Shale
Radioactivity in the Marcellus shale results from the high content of naturally occurring radioactive uranium and thorium, their decay products including Radium-226, and radioactive potassium elements. The evidence of high radionuclide content is present in geochemical studies and in gamma-ray logs from wells drilled into the Marcellus formation.
In 1981 the United States Geological Survey performed a geochemical study of trace elements and uranium in the Devonian shale of the Appalachian Basin. 3 The Devonian layer refers to sediment formed 350 million years ago from mud in shallow seas. Its full profile consists of a number of strata as seen in Figure 3. Marcellus shale belongs to the Hamilton group of the Middle Devonian formation. Since the layers do not form in a line parallel to the ground surface, the depth at which Marcellus is found can vary from surface outcroppings to as deep as 7,000 feet or more below the ground surface along the Pennsylvania border in the Delaware River valley,4 and as deep as 9000 feet in Pennsylvania.5
1 Baker, 2001
2 Though Figure 2 shows perforation in a vertical leg, it is the horizontal leg in Marcellus shale that is punctured.
3 Leventhal, 1981
- “Proposed changes to landfill agreement approved by Chemung legislature: “…During the public comment period, a consultant for Casella said the drill cuttings from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania contained less radiation than natural background radiation and less than is allowed under current limits…” ” (NY)- http://www.theithacajournal.com/article/20100412/NEWS01/4120390/Proposed+changes+to+landfill+agreement+approved+by+Chemung+legislature , http://www.pressconnects.com/article/20100412/NEWS01/4120390/Proposed-changes-to-landfill-agreement-approved-by-Chemung-legislature & http://www.stargazette.com/article/20100412/NEWS01/4120390/Proposed-changes-to-landfill-agreement-approved-by-Chemung-legislature
Chemung Co. Legislature deliberations on accepting drill cuttings at county landfill. Jan 2011 Treichler report
- DEC Ruling on Chemung Co. Landfill Hearing: http://www.dec.ny.gov/hearings/68424.html
Extension director says landfill already accepts radioactive materials
By: Melissa deCordova, Sun Staff Writer Published: February 7th, 2011
NORWICH – Radiation is already in the Pharsalia Landfill despite a local law intended to exclude it, says Cornell Cooperative Extension Director Ken Smith in a letter to the Chenango County Natural Gas Committee Jan. 31.
Smith’s claim contradicts what the county’s public works department director insisted during a meeting of town supervisors last month, that absolutely no radiation at any level was permitted in the landfill.
The Chenango County Public Works Committee was interpreting a recent laboratory analysis of drill cuttings from a Norse Energy well site in Smyrna. Using a testing company recommended by the county, Norse had invested in the screening as a precautionary measure.
“Regarding radioactive materials being admitted to the Chenango County Landfill, everything that has ever been delivered to the county landfill has contained radioactive materials, and everything that will ever be delivered to the Chenango County Landfill will contain radioactive materials,” said Smith in his letter to the gas advisory committee.
Even though the lab declared that radiation was undetected in the cuttings, Department of Public Works Director Randy Gibbon said some units were present as indicated by ‘less than’ arrows, but not zero. Gibbon backed up his refusal of the waste with Local Law No. 3, an ordinance enacted in 1989 and later amended in the early 90s when parcels in Chenango County were being considered for a low level radioactive waste dump.
And therein lies the misinterpretation. According to Smith, the local ordinance refers to radioactive waste as defined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or items that have become contaminated with radioactive material or have become radioactive through exposure to neutron radiation such as contaminated clothing, filters, equipment and tools, medical tubes and syringes and laboratory animal carcasses and tissues.
“I think that these are the sorts of materials that the supervisors intended to restrict. … I do not believe that it is the intent of Local Law Number 3 to prevent acceptance of all naturally radioactive material,” Smith said.
Based on the large number of jobs and increased revenues from Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania over the past two years, Smith said taking in the drilling solids could mean “significant economic importance to Chenango County.” Supervisors on the natural gas advisory committee have suggested using the material as cell cover at the landfill.
A private hauler from Whitney Point, that regulary contracts with Norse to take consturction debris from well sites, recently purchased trucking equipment to dispose of the cuttings. The loads could mean revenue for them, as well as for the county.
Smith also said tht the City of Norwich’s refusal to accept leachate from the landfill if formation solids were permitted is unrealistic, noting that every aquifer in Chenango County receives water leached through radioactive rock deposits.
“I think it may be important to make clear that all soil, water, and air naturally contain radioactive materials. Also, all plants and animals naturally contain radioactive materials,” he wrote.
In earlier conversations with this reporter, Smith said all residential water wells located north of state Rt. 20 in upstate New York are drilled in the Marcellus Shale formation (because it is much shallower there and outcrops in the town of Marcellus) with no public concern about radiation or heavy metal content in drinking water.
On a separate topic, during a recent Regional Natural Gas Committee meeting, it was clear that many in the audience were worried about the toxic effects of methane, the primary component in natural gas. Smith said methane, which is biologically inert, is a normal, non-toxic component of drinking water in many locations and that developing the natural gas deposits from shale poses no risk to the water or air.
“We all have methane in our digestive systems every day of our lives. One recent study in West Virginia found that methane was present in 70 percent of the drinking water wells tested,” he said.
- Local law prohibits even trace amounts of radiation in landfill
By: Melissa deCordova, Sun Staff Writer
Published: January 28th, 2011
PHARSALIA – A local law barring any radioactive materials from disposal at the Pharsalia Landfill would have to be changed if Chenango County decides to go into the business of accepting rock cuttings brought to the surface during the process of well drilling.
As more natural gas is being produced from the Herkimer Sandstone in the northern part of the county, lawmakers have been weighing the potential revenue from taking in the formation solids versus uncertainty about whether the deep subsurface rocks and soils will be too dangerous to dispose of safely.
The matter came to a head this fall when Norse Energy Inc., the energy company currently drilling in the towns of Smyrna, Plymouth and Preston, paid a laboratory to have a sample of cuttings tested for radiation. The results, which were shared with members of the Chenango County Public Works Committee last week, stated that radiation in the sample material was “declared undetected.”However, Chenango County Department of Public Works Director Randy Gibbon said the 40-page lab document’s summary sheet proves there were “units of radiation” indicated because the gross beta and gross alpha tests were reported as ‘less than’ certain levels, but not zero.
“It doesn’t matter what the level. As long as there’s radiation at all, we can’t accept it with our local law,” he said.
More in-depth analysis of uranium 238, radium 226, thorium 232 and potassium, among other isotopes, would be required to cancel out electromagnetic energy, Gibbon added. But he said it most likely wouldn’t be a matter of Norse going back for more tests.
“You are never going to get zero,” he said.
Local Law No. 3 enacted back in 1989 prohibits radioactive waste in the county’s landfill. The law was later amended and made even more restrictive when parcels in Chenango County were being considered for a low level radioactive waste dump in the early 90s.
As a result, everything entering the Pharsalia Landfill, including cell cover and refuse from the county’s transfer stations in Norwich and Brisben, is first passed through a Geiger counter set at three times the background level for radiation.
The landfill’s Geiger counter was set at levels recommended by the New York State Department of Health, Gibbon said. The detection device has rejected loads of garbage twice through the years.
Norse contacted Gibbon to recommend a testing laboratory, and paid $2,000 to Upstate Laboratories for the analysis. A commercial hauler contracted to truck construction debris from Norse’s well sites invested in equipment specifically to handle the additional business.
Mike Holden, whose Whitney Point company has taken refuse off Norse’s well sites since 2007, said he invested “five figures” last summer to purchase new equipment for the tailings. He said he is still waiting to see which direction the county is going to go in.
“It would have been a great market for me and for the county, too,” he said.
Public Works Committee member Peter C. Flanagan, D-Preston, commented that the best place for the formation solids would be to leave them on site.
Town of Otselic Supervisor David J. Messineo warned that spreading them on the surface and enabling rain and surface water to mix in could leach the material’s radioactivity level to greater degrees.
“We have a huge aquifer in South Otselic to worry about,” he said.
City of Norwich Public Works Superintendent Carl Ivarson said the city’s water treatment plant would no longer accept leachate from the Pharsalia Landfill if the law were to change to permit radiation.
- Supervisors recommend permitting wastewater from natural gas wells at county landfill, By: Melissa deCordova, Sun Staff Writer. Published: July 2nd, 2010.
NORWICH – A Chenango County law imposed in the early 1990s that prohibits radioactive waste disposal at the county’s landfills needs to be amended to allow the intake of – and profits from – wastewater resulting from drilling natural gas.Not to be confused with shale rock formations, which contain higher radon concentrations, the sandstones that the region’s primary driller, Norse Energy, is targeting contain low levels of radioactivity. County supervisors calling for the law to be changed compared the levels to the naturally occurring radiation found in all of the rocks and dirt in Chenango County.Because of the restriction, contractors for Norse are forced to haul drilling wastewater from wells in Smyrna, Plymouth and Preston to the Village of Sherburne or further south to wastewater treatment facilities in Broome and Chemung counties, or in Pennsylvania.Sherburne Village Mayor Bill Acee said Norse spent about $15,000 per quarter last year to have formation wastewater treated there. The new source of revenue generated $9,800 in the first quarter of this year.Natural gas drilling results in salty wastewater, called brine, and sediments, called tailings, from the subsurface. Contractors store the tailings in an open pit at the well site and recycle the brine for reuse in the drilling process. Once gas is reached and the drilling is completed, the brine is trucked out.In most states, the preferred disposal method is to store the tailings and brine in injection wells. Town of Smyrna Supervisor James Bays said his board has a one-year moratorium on drilling injection wells, however.—
Supervisors pass ban on hydrofracking in Ontario County. By Mike Maslanik. GateHouse News Service. Dec 20, 2010,Canandaigua, N.Y. ———The Ontario County Board of Supervisors overwhelmingly backed a measure to ban the practice of hydrofracking on property owned by the county.
All supervisors present at Thursday night’s meeting voted to approved the resolution, which also stipulates that the Ontario County landfill will not accept waste products from hydraulic fracturing without written permission from the county.
Supervisors Don Ninestine, D-City of Geneva , and Robert Green, R-Bristol, were absent.
“I’m quite pleased that the board was unanimous in its decision,” said Supervisor David Baker, D-City of Canandaigua, chair of the county’s Environmental Quality committee. “We’re very hopeful that the state Legislature will not allow (hydrofracking) until the Environmental Protection Agency studies it fully.”
In the past, the board has passed several resolutions related to hydrofracking, such as requesting the state to put a moratorium on the practice until more studies could be done, but this was the first time the board exercised local control.
“The control we have is over county lands,” Baker said. “The other local control we have is the acceptance or rejection of waste materials.”
In Albany , outgoing Gov. David Paterson issued an executive order banning high-volume fracturing of horizontally drilled wells, like those in the southern part of the state, until July 1. Paterson vetoed a bill that would have suspended all gas drilling permits until May 15.
Going forward, Baker said the board will take up a resolution that, if hydrofracking is allowed in the state, would require companies to get a road-use agreement with the local municipality or a trucking plan.
That resolution will also direct the county’s Planning Department to draft model resolutions for towns and villages interested in passing their own hydrofracking regulations.
February 1, 2011 by Marcellus Shale drilling waste OK for area landfills – Chambersburg Public Opinion.