2.5M Pounds of Radioactive Fracking Waste Illegally Dumped at Oregon Landfill

Posted on 3/18/2020 by Lauren Scott

A hazardous waste facility near Arlington, Oregon has been put on notice for allegedly dumping over 2.5 million pounds of radioactive fracking waste at its landfill, according to the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE). Oregon law prohibits disposal of radioactive waste in the state.

The waste facility operates the only hazardous waste landfill in the state. It allegedly accepted the waste from a North Dakota brine water supplier and recycler in the oil and gas industry over a period of three years. 

The fracking liquid received by the waste company had come into contact with underground rocks laced with radium-226. Oregon environmental officials report the waste was contaminated with radium up to 1,700 picocuries per gram. Oregon has a threshold for radium of 5 picocuries per gram.


The North Dakota recycler where the waste originated hired a third-party waste transporter to deliver the waste. According to ODOE, the transporter allegedly misrepresented that the waste could lawfully be disposed in Oregon by falsifying the Manifest. ODOE also alleges the Oregon waste facility failed to ensure the Manifest was accurate.

ODOE issued a notice of violation to the Oregon waste facility, directing it to prepare a risk assessment to develop a corrective plan to prevent violation recurrence. No fines have been assessed at this time.

Radioactive Waste Disposal: Where Can You Go?

Most low-level radioactive waste (LLW) is typically sent to land-based disposal sites for long-term management. The US currently has five LLW facilities, which are located in Texas, South Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, and Washington. 

Specially designed interim surface or sub-surface storage waste facilities are currently used throughout the country to ensure the safe storage of hazardous radioactive waste pending the availability of a long-term disposal option.

Radium as a Hazardous Waste

Exposure to radium-226 or radium-228 over an extended period of time is known to cause lymphoma, bone cancer, leukemia, and other chronic health issues.

EPA has established a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 5 picocuries per gram in both the surface and subsurface in radium-contaminated soil at Superfund sites. It also established an MCL for drinking water of 5 picocuries per liter for any combination of radium-226 and radium-228 in drinking water. 

RCRA Training Ready Before You Need It 

US EPA requires annual RCRA training for hazardous waste personnel. Lion makes it easy to get effective, comprehensive RCRA training with two convenient online courses.

Or, join us for a RCRA Refresher webinar to get instructor-led training from any internet connection. 

Courses are packed with professional narration, engaging exercises, and original graphics—so you learn by seeing, by hearing, and by doing. When we learn something in multiple ways, we retain more information and are better prepared to apply our knowledge to real-world situations.

RCRA Hazardous Waste Management (Online Course) 
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Tags: Brine water, fracking, fracking waste, gas, hazardous waste, natural gas, North Dakota, oil, Oregon, radioactive waste, radium, RCRA, waste disposal

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