Ohio seeks drilling waste tests

COLUMBUS – Contaminated wastes from a boom in oil and natural gas drilling would face new testing, reporting and tracking requirements before going to Ohio landfills under a proposal developed by three state agencies over the past several months.

Language for the stepped-up requirements is planned as part of Gov. John Kasich’s $63.2 billion, two-year operating budget proposal.

The planned changes would require drilling companies to test drilling muds, dirt and rock for radioactivity that hasn’t occurred naturally and to share that information with landfills before the waste is accepted.

The legislation sets thresholds for concentrations of technologically enhanced radioactive material – nicknamed TENORM – of five picocuries per gram of radium-226 or radium-227. State officials said that’s in line with national standards.

Drilling wastes containing more than that could either be diluted under regulatory supervision, or would be sent to one of the out-of-state low-level radioactive disposal sites licensed to handle such material.