MDN’s Guide to New TENORM Rules for OH Utica Drillers

Last year, the Ohio state legislature passed an omnibus “everything but the kitchen sink is in there” bill (HB59) that covered, among other things, a requirement that oil and gas drillers need to test drilling waste for TENORM–or Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material. Drillers need to test for TENORM (or naturally occurring radioactivity) in wastewater and drill cuttings under certain conditions, according to the legislation. MDN tracked down House Bill 59 and read it. We include the relevant section from the massive 699-page law below.

It appears to MDN’s eye that if OH shale drillers recycle the waste and re-use it on site (in the case of fluids), there is no need to test. Likewise, if they cart fluids to another nearby drill site for re-use, no need to test. If they dispose of it via a Class II injection well–no need to test. That covers about all of the ways Utica drillers handle liquid waste. It seems to us the only real requirement will be to test drill cuttings (leftover rock and dirt) for radioactivity before disposing of them in landfills. The reason this is news now is because the Ohio Dept. of Health was charged with drafting guidelines for how such materials should be sampled and analyzed to determine whether TENORM levels are high enough to warrant special treatment. The DOH recently released those guidelines, which OH drillers will now need to pay attention to when it comes to testing at the drill site…

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