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PO Box 1070, Frankfort, KY 40602  Phone 502.875.2428, Fax 502.875.2845

KRC Proposes Comprehensive Plan For Investigating Radiological Contamination In Martha Oil Field  Posted: August 11, 2005
Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Post Office Box 1070

Frankfort, Kentucky 40602
(502) 875-2428 phone
(502) 875-2845 fax
e-mail: fitzKRC@aol.com
www.kyrc.org

August 11, 2005

Clyde Bolton, Director
Division of Public Health
Protection and Safety
Department for Public Health
275 East Main Street
Frankfort, Kentucky 40621

Guy Delius, Assistant Director
Division of Public Health
Protection and Safety
Department for Public Health
275 East Main Street
Frankfort, Kentucky 40621

Dewey Crawford, Branch Manager
Radiation Health & Toxic Agency Control Branch
Department for Public Health
275 East Main Street
Frankfort, Kentucky 40621

Re: Development of Work Plan For Remediation
NORM Contamination, Martha Oil Field


Gentlemen:

I am writing to follow-up on our initial meeting to discuss the current status of the remediation by Ashland Exploration and its successor-in-interest of land and water resources contaminated by Ashland’s oil production activities in the Martha Oil Field (MOF).

Initially, let me express my appreciation for your meeting with John Volpe and myself, and the interest shown by the Department for Public Health for this important issue.

As I committed during our meeting, I am writing to transmit a proposal developed at my request by Dr. John Volpe, Ph.D, who has been retained by the Council as a radiation consultant. Prior to your review of that proposal, some background is in order.

The discovery of elevated levels of radioactivity in the Martha oil field in the late 1980’s led to the development of a “Joint Agreement on Martha Reclamation Program (MRP)” executed between the Cabinet for Human Resources (CHR) and Ashland Exploration (AEI), in which AEI agreed to a program of reclamation under a document captioned “Martha Reclamation program” (August 1, 1993), modified by Technical Support Addendum (October/December 1994) and Technical Consensus Document (January 1995) in which levels of NORM would be lowered through selective removal of contaminated media, to agreed-upon values for radioactivity, with confirmatory sampling by the company and oversight by the Cabinet. The exemption criteria below which no remediation would be required was set at 5 pCi/gm above natural background and averaged over 100 square meters, in the top 15 cm of soil (with 15 pCi below 15 cm).

After execution of the Joint Agreement in February 1995, procedures were agreed upon by CHR and AEI for selective confirmatory surveys of well sites and tank battery sites, for for removal of contaminated soil and piping to a local collection and storage site, and for securing letters from CHR approving the remediated sites for “unrestricted release.” The “First Addendum to Joint Agreement on Martha Reclamation Program” executed in September 1995, contained procedures for release of sites, allowing any site with a reading below 20 micro r/hr at 1 meter above ground to be released, and providing for confirmatory surveys of a statistical sampling of the remediated sites. Over a period of several years as reclamation work was being undertaken by OHM under contract with AEI, data was submitted to the state concerning sites that had been “remediated” and letters of concurrence from CHR of the eligibility of many properties for unrestricted release were issued. The soils and piping removed by AEI were stored on AEI property, and to this day, significant quantities of the NORM-contaminated soil remain at a consolidation site and have not been properly disposed of in a permanent disposal site.

The Kentucky Resources Council (KRC) has been involved in the issue of contamination of land and water resources by naturally-occurring radioactive material (NORM) in the Martha oil field, since the early 1990’s, and was a party to much of the discussion prior to the decision by CHR to enter into the Joint Agreement with AEI.

On May 21, 1993, KRC wrote then-Governor Brereton Jones urging that here be a comprehensive and thorough assessment of the extent and degree of NORM contamination in the MOF. The letter indicated that contamination from oil field operations may have resulted from waterflooding operations, residual oil field piping, wastes from the separation of the oil and produced waters, and from the land/pit disposal of produced waters. The letter also requested that the Commonwealth develop regulations addressing NORM contamination and remediation. That letter, attached in full as an Appendix to this letter, provides you with some background on the public health concerns with NORM exposure in the Martha area:

Information contained in state files of the Cabinet for Human Resources and the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet indicate that there are, in the Martha oil field in Johnson County, Kentucky, a significant number of land areas where oil production-related wastes and wastewaters from oil/water separation tanks, brine/sludge and mud pits, and scale from oilfield equipment/scrap have been determined to emit levels of radioactivity far in excess of levels considered unsafe for exposure to members of the public.

Naturally occurring radioactive material, or "NORM," is a term used to describe radioactive material that occurs naturally but is radioactively enhanced or concentrated through human activity. Radioactivity associated with NORM in waste generated by the exploration and production of gas and oil is produced by the decay of uranium and thorium. Radium-226, a [decay] product of uranium which occurs in the Devonian shale that is a source rock for much of the oil found in Kentucky, is the decay product of most concern, because unlike the highly insoluble uranium, the radium (Ra226) is water and brine-soluble and is brought to the land surface and often concentrated as a by-product of the production of oil. The process of development of the oil resources, including the waterflooding of producing formations, and surface activities to separate oil from wastewaters, has resulted in the surface disposal of concentrated levels of radium-226 in disposal pits, and the concentration of radium-226 on land areas associated with tank batteries used for separation of oil and produce (brine) water, at concentrations which exceed levels at which the Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that action should be taken to require removal and proper management of the radioactive materials and contaminated soil.

The principal contaminant of concern in the radiation problems associated with oil production activities appears to be radium-226, which was noted by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to have "a number of physical and chemical features that make it a particularly potent hazard to human health:"

* It emits both alpha and gamma radiation

* It behaves much like calcium and is incorporated into the bones in the human body

* It is a known carcinogen

* It has a half-life of 1,620 years

* It undergoes radioactive decay to produce radon - another hazardous substance.

* Radium-226 can enter both aquatic and terrestrial food chains leading to human consumption.

Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Air Quality And Nuclear Energy; Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials Associated With The Oil And Gas Industry: An Informational Brief Prepared for the Louisiana House of Representatives and Louisiana Senate Committees On Natural Resources (September 1, 1989) at p. 3.

* * * *

The current level of information regarding the extent of the problem of oilfield radioactive wastes in the state is virtually nonexistent, and it is not known beyond the Martha oil field, whether a problem exists with oilfield waste radioactivity. Data developed on the Martha oil field through field surveys conducted by the Cabinet for Human Resources and the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, as well as a consultant for an oil company in the area, indicates the existence of numerous sites where levels of radium-226 has been detected at excessive levels. These areas include apparently dozens of brine/sludge pits in the Martha oil field that were formerly used for separation of oil and produced water (brine), and for disposal of oil-related sludges and clays as well as other land areas which currently or formerly supported tank batteries (oil/water separators) or piping and equipment storage, many of which exhibit levels of radium-226 as much as hundreds of times above the levels deemed unacceptable due to health consequences by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for human exposure.

* * * *

Oil-field materials that may contain NORM include:

* Scale from production tubing, casing and downhole pumps;

* Scale from crude oil and gas pipelines;

* Contaminated soils at pipe yards and other facilities where scale is removed;

* Produced water;

* Tank bottoms and other oily sludges from separation pits, heater treaters, storage tanks, and separation vessels;

* Pit-bottom sediments and soils;

* Metal from crude oil processing equipment;

* Contaminated soil from production sites and commin- gling facilities where heater treaters and other vessels have historically been cleaned.

The current situation in the Martha oil field demands immediate attention in order to assure that public exposure to excessive levels of radiation associated with the oilfield wastes and scrap equipment is prevented. Currently, there exist numerous areas where oil-related sludge pits, areas that currently or formerly sited tank batteries, and other areas where oil-related piping and equipment has been abandoned, for which there is no fencing or other control over access to the sites by people or wildlife, no controls to minimize the off-site migration of radium-226 into soil, subsoil, or surface waters, nor any monitoring of the migration of such material, nor any posting to prevent public access and to minimize human exposure. To my knowledge, no removal of sludge pits has occurred, and some of these pits have been "landspread" in place, a process that makes the location of the contaminated areas more problematic and which I am told is not likely to appreciably reduce the risks associated with wastes that have a half-life of some 1600 years. Rather, lack of ability for the public, now and in the future, to identify the sites that have been landspread in place and where surface facilities have been removed, increases the risk that the surface structures may be constructed over radium-contaminated soil, resulting in radon emanation that might pose a health threat.

It is a concern of the Kentucky Resources Council, Inc., that there are numerous pits and tank battery sites in the Martha oil field exhibiting high levels of external gamma radiation (Ra-226) located on lands that are currently being farmed and used for residential purposes, and that exposure to elevated levels of radioactivity might occur due to inadequate notice to the public and to workers in the oil production processes, and because of the lack of barriers to alert the landowners, workers and public of potential risks associated with exposure and the need to avoid the areas of contamination. Likewise, the Council is concerned that these open pits and other areas should be promptly remediated, both because of the potential exposure to the public and environmental risks to wildlife, and evidence of migration of Radium 226 from the pits to streambanks in the area.

KRC requested that the Jones Administration take a series of actions, including:

* Issuing appropriate orders to demand immediate action by responsible parties to isolate, characterize, and remediate the radioactive contamination;

* Developing a work plan for a prompt and comprehensive survey of oil-producing regions to determine the extent of problems from the other oil fields in the state; including a survey of tank batteries, pits, land application units, surface impoundments, and the fate of oilfield equipment and piping that has been "recycled" as scrap in order to assure that the end use of any equipment and piping that may be contaminated with radioactive scale is not posing any health risk;

* Finalizing regulations already under development by the Cabinet for Human Resources, including regulations addressing the proper management of radioactive oil-related wastes; including licensing, equipment decontamination, waste treatment, storage and disposal requirements, procedures for characterization of oil production piping, equipment, drilling muds, produced water and other wastes for radioactivity, site characterization and remediation requirements for areas contaminated with radioactive wastes; surface and groundwater monitoring; and other aspects of a comprehensive program for management of oilfield radioactive wastes;

* Undertaking, in conjunction with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a health assessment of the communities located in the Martha oil field to ascertain whether there are elevated levels of cancers or other illness associated with excessive radiation exposure.

* Reviewing existing regulatory programs, including the issuance of permits under state waste and water discharge programs, to determine whether additional monitoring parameters, effluent limitations, and other controls should be placed on disposal of wastes and wastewaters that may be contaminated with NORM.

In response, the Department for Public Health entered into a voluntary agreement with AEI for remediation, shelved the proposed regulations, and to my knowledge has never surveyed other oil fields to determine whether NORM contamination is a problem in oil fields elsewhere in the state.

Against this background, many of the residents of the former Martha Oil Field have requested that KRC assist them in securing an independent and comprehensive validation of the remediation efforts. Among the questions that have been raised are:

1. Have all of the contaminated sites been identified and has the contamination on and off-site been removed from private properties and public streams and aquifers?

This issue raise two concerns – first, what is the level of confidence that all areas contaminated with NORM have been identified, and second, have all of those sites been remediated, including both on-site soil contamination and off-site releases. There is concern that 100% of the sites may not have been identified, and that less than 100% of the sites where remediation has occurred have had any independent third-party review, and few have had independent validation that the remedial goals were achieved.

2. Is the remediation standard agreed-to by the CHR as a voluntary matter adequate to protect public health and the environment?

3. Have there been adverse health outcomes associated with historic and current NORM exposure?

In order to begin to answer these questions, KRC retained former Radiation Control Branch Manager John Volpe, Ph.D, who was involved in the early detection of the NORM problems in the Martha Oil Fields but was not involved in the policy discussions and decisions resulting in the CHR-AEI Joint Agreement, to develop a scope of work for the Cabinet in order to answer these questions and to provide for the residents of these areas the level of confidence they deserve in the characterization and remediation of past contamination.

I have attached that proposal for your consideration as you develop a work plan for responding to the unanswered questions concerning the remediation of NORM contamination in the former Martha oil field. I urge you to adopt the proposal, which was crafted with an understanding of the residents concerns based on John’s meeting with the local residents, and based on John’s experience in the field and his understanding of the equipment and staffing capabilities and constraints within your agency.

You indicated in our meeting that by mid-September you anticipated having an outline for the public of the approach that DPH would propose for expediting remediation of areas and validating remediation that has been done. I look forward to that outline, and urge you to review and adopt the protocols and approach that Dr. Volpe has recommended. It is, to KRC, of paramount importance that we be able to answer with a high degree of confidence for each resident of the area, that all pathways of exposure have been identified and interrupted by removing the sources of contamination and other remedial measures, and that those materials have been permanently and appropriate managed to protect the public, workers, and the environment.

Thank you again. I look forward to assisting in any manner that we can in this endeavor, and in the larger goals of finalizing protective regulations on characterization and remediation of any NORM contamination, and a comprehensive assessment of NORM in all of the state’s oil fields. As I mentioned in our meeting, Dr. Volpe is available to assist you in any aspect of this problem as well.

Cordially,

Tom FitzGerald Director

cc: John A. Volpe, Ph.D

Daryl Shoemake, USEPA Region IV

ADDENDUM A: PROPOSAL FOR MARTHA OIL FIELD INVESTIGATION AND REMEDIATION

prepared by Dr. John Volpe of John A. Volpe, Ph.D., LLC, at request of the Kentucky Resources Council.

SUMMARY OF PROPOSED APPROACH

1. Development of a plan to expedite remediation for areas with residual radioactivity from the Martha Oil Field Operations.

2. Development of a phased approach to assess residual contamination from past oil field operation employing field screening methods and utilizing both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s TRIAD approach and Argonne National Laboratory’s Adaptive Sampling and Analysis Programs (ASAP).

3. Real-time in situ characterization permits 100% coverage of potential contaminated areas. This approach improves on traditional approaches that employ averages based a small number of samples which do not cover 100% of a potentially contaminated areas.

4. Development of a focused and selective assessment and remediation program for residual contamination and oil field pipe and other debris.

5. Subsequent to selective soil removal employing real-time methods, the soils shall be characterized prior to disposal.

6. The program shall seek to implement methods and approaches to expedite removal of contaminated soils employing a cost-effective approach.

7. All data shall be verified and validated.

8. Final validation of whether an area meets an agreed-upon standard shall be documented with a final status survey.

9. The Kentucky Resources Council and all other stakeholders shall have the opportunity to review all proposals in a timely manner and employ a third party to validate the data.

10. The stakeholders shall have an opportunity to fully review any plans for the oil field.

11. Standards shall be based on a national consensus such as the standards developed by the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, Inc.

BENEFITS OF THE APPROACH

Enables expedited characterization of potentially contaminated areas.

Permits expedited remediation of potentially contaminated sites within in the oil field.

Enables expedited characterization of contaminated soil prior to disposal.

Permits 100% characterization of all potentially contaminated areas.

Allows for a more economical approach that minimizes impacts on public health.

Minimizes radiation exposures to workers because of expedited real time cleanup.

COSTS

Requires some additional work by the Cabinet for Health and Families Services to develop expedited characterization and remediation.

May require additional work by Cabinet to meet expedited time frames.

PROPOSED APPROACH FOR MARTHA OIL FIELD

Step 1. – Framing The Questions Related to Problem

Has residual radioactivity been left in the Martha Oil Field subsequent to initial removal actions?

Does residual radioactivity, if present, represent a public health or ecological risk via complete exposure pathways?

Does residual radioactivity, if present, migrate via surface pathways to potential points of exposure?

Is there data to support the potential presence of residual radioactivity at suspect locations?

If data is not available, data gaps must be filled to complete assessment of impact of potential residual radioactivity on public health.

Can stakeholders concerns be addressed?

Step 2. – Decisions and Inputs to Decisions

What existing data, that has been properly verified and validated, can be utilized in the decision making process?

Are analytical approaches available that can be implemented to expedite problem resolution?

What is the priority in implementing approaches that minimize long-term impacts on public health?

What analytes need to be addressed and what analytical protocols can be implemented to collect new data?

What are the sampling parameters and boundaries for the assessments?

Step 3 – Decision Rule

Establish the action level based on national standards which meet Kentucky statutory and regulatory requirements and protect public health and the environment.

Can methods provide verified and validated data at levels that permit determining whether an action level has been exceeded?

Assess data derived from sampling and analysis plan to determine whether remedial action is necessary.

Step 4 – DEVELOP AN ACCEPTABLE SAMPLING PLAN

Develop the most resource-effective sampling and analytical plan that addresses concerns of stakeholders.

In summary, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services should use the above approach to:

(1) State the problem that exists in the Martha Oil Field;

(2) Evaluate whether existing data can be used in assessing whether a problem may exist within the field;

(3) If existing data cannot be used, collect necessary data;

(4) Develop a plan acceptable to all parties to collect verified and validated data that will allow assessment of residual radioactivity in the field; and

(5) the Cabinet for Health and Family Services must, as required by KRS 211.842 and KRS 211.844, establish regulations to address Technologically Enhanced Radioactive Material.

Kentucky Resources Council and other stakeholders shall have sufficient time (30 days) to review all plans that will be implemented to collect data in the Martha Oil Field.

All Data will be available for evaluation by the Kentucky Resources Council and other stakeholders prior to any actions proposed or taken by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

ADDENDUM B: 1993 LETTER FROM KRC TO GOVERNOR JONES

May 21, 1993

Hon. Brereton C. Jones
Office of the Governor
State Capitol
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

Dear Governor Jones:

I am writing to request immediate action by your Administration to begin the development of a short- and long-term coordinated strategy to characterize and control the environmental problems associated with oilfield radioactive wastes in Kentucky.

Information contained in state files of the Cabinet for Human Resources and the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet indicate that there are, in the Martha oil field in Johnson County, Kentucky, a significant number of land areas where oil production-related wastes and wastewaters from oil/water separation tanks, brine/sludge and mud pits, and scale from oilfield equipment/scrap have been determined to emit levels of radioactivity far in excess of levels considered unsafe for exposure to members of the public.

Naturally occurring radioactive material, or "NORM," is a term used to describe radioactive material that occurs naturally but is radioactively enhanced or concentrated through human activity. Radioactivity associated with NORM in waste generated by the exploration and production of gas and oil is produced by the decay of uranium and thorium.

Radium-226, a [decay] product of uranium which occurs in the Devonian shale that is the source rock for the oil found in Kentucky, is the decay product of most concern, because unlike the highly insoluble uranium, the radium (Ra226) is water and brine-soluble and is brought to the land surface and often concentrated as a by-product of the production of oil. The process of development of the oil resources, including the waterflooding of producing formations, and surface activities to separate oil from wastewaters, has resulted in the surface disposal of concentrated levels of radium-226 in disposal pits, and the concentration of radium-226 on land areas associated with tank batteries used for separation of oil and produce (brine) water, at concentrations which exceed levels at which the Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that action should be taken to require removal and proper management of the radioactive materials and contaminated soil.

The principal contaminant of concern in the radiation problems associated with oil production activities appears to be radium-226, which was noted by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to have "a number of physical and chemical features that make it a particularly potent hazard to human health:"

* It emits both alpha and gamma radiation

* It behaves much like calcium and is incorporated into the bones in the human body

* It is a known carcinogen

* It has a half-life of 1,620 years

* It undergoes radioactive decay to produce radon - another hazardous substance.

* Radium-226 can enter both aquatic and terrestrial food chains leading to human consumption.

Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Air Quality And Nuclear Energy; Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials Associated With The Oil And Gas Industry: An Informational Brief Prepared for the Louisiana House of Representatives and Louisiana Senate Committees On Natural Resources (September 1, 1989) at p. 3.

I have attached the Louisiana briefing paper for your convenience, since it indicates the range of problem potentially associated with unremediated contamination of land areas and the potential problems of lack of control over disposition of contaminated tubular (piping) and equipment.

The current level of information regarding the extent of the problem of oilfield radioactive wastes in the state is virtually nonexistent, and it is not known beyond the Martha oil field, whether a problem exists with oilfield waste radioactivity. Data developed on the Martha oil field through field surveys conducted by the Cabinet for Human Resources and the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, as well as a consultant for an oil company in the area, indicates the existence of numerous sites where levels of radium-226 has been detected at excessive levels. These areas include apparently dozens of brine/sludge pits in the Martha oil field that were formerly used for separation of oil and produced water (brine), and for disposal of oil-related sludges and clays as well as other land areas which currently or formerly supported tank batteries (oil/water separators) or piping and equipment storage, many of which exhibit levels of radium-226 as much as hundreds of times above the levels deemed unacceptable due to health consequences by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for human exposure. Both the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) have specified the clean-up (remediation) of radium-contaminated soils to around 5 pCi/gram above background levels, which have been identified in the Martha oil field as being around 2 - 7 pCi/gram. Louisiana has also adopted a remediation standard of 5 pCi/gram for surface soils. Field readings taken by the Cabinet for Human Resources, Division of Radiation, indicate that the levels of radiation from radium-226, indicate values for external gamma radiation (radium-226) of as high as 3400 pCi/gram, exceeding by as much as 680X the level at which such radioactive material would be required to be removed and disposed in a secure facility if the radioactive material were associated with a uranium or thorium mill tailing site. 40 CFR 192.

Oil-field materials that may contain NORM include:

* Scale from production tubing, casing and downhole pumps;

* Scale from crude oil and gas pipelines;

* Contaminated soils at pipe yards and other facilities where scale is removed;

* Produced water;

* Tank bottoms and other oily sludges from separation pits, heater treaters, storage tanks, and separation vessels;

* Pit-bottom sediments and soils;

* Metal from crude oil processing equipment;

* Contaminated soil from production sites and commin- gling facilities where heater treaters and other vessels have historically been cleaned.

The current situation in the Martha oil field demands immediate attention in order to assure that public exposure to excessive levels of radiation associated with the oilfield wastes and scrap equipment is prevented. Currently, there exist numerous areas where oil-related sludge pits, areas that currently or formerly sited tank batteries, and other areas where oil-related piping and equipment has been abandoned, for which there is no fencing or other control over access to the sites by people or wildlife, no controls to minimize the off-site migration of radium-226 into soil, subsoil, or surface waters, nor any monitoring of the migration of such material, nor any posting to prevent public access and to minimize human exposure. To my knowledge, no removal of sludge pits has occurred, and some of these pits have been "landspread" in place, a process that makes the location of the contaminated areas more problematic and which I am told is not likely to appreciably reduce the risks associated with wastes that have a half-life of some 1600 years. Rather, lack of ability for the public, now and in the future, to identify the sites that have been landspread in place and where surface facilities have been removed, increases the risk that the surface structures may be constructed over radium-contaminated soil, resulting in radon emanation that might pose a health threat.

It is a concern of the Kentucky Resources Council, Inc., that there are numerous pits and tank battery sites in the Martha oil field exhibiting high levels of external gamma radiation (Ra-226) located on lands that are currently being farmed and used for residential purposes, and that exposure to elevated levels of radioactivity might occur due to inadequate notice to the public and to workers in the oil production processes, and because of the lack of barriers to alert the landowners, workers and public of potential risks associated with exposure and the need to avoid the areas of contamination. Likewise, the Council is concerned that these open pits and other areas should be promptly remediated, both because of the potential exposure to the public and environmental risks to wildlife, and evidence of migration of Radium 226 from the pits to streambanks in the area.

Beyond the known contamination in the Martha field, the Council is concerned there does not appear to have been developed any systematic assessment of the occurrence and extent of any radioactive waste problems in the other oil fields of the state. Given that the Devonian shale is indicated by geologists in the state as being the source rock for all of the state's oil resources, it would appear entirely possible that NORM problems may be present in the other oil fields.

I am writing to ask that your Administration undertake a series of steps to respond to the NORM problem, in order to assure that public exposure to elevated radioactivity from areas where oil wastes and related material have been stored or disposed is minimized; and that prompt remediation is undertaken to assure restoration of areas contaminated with the oil-related wastes and that the wastes are disposed in a proper manner.

It is troubling that to date no mandatory order has issued demanding immediate remedial action for those many known instances of radioactive contamination in the Martha oil field, and that no assessment has been conducted of the nature and occurrence of NORM problems in the state's other oil fields, since the possibility of such problems in the other oil fields is far from remote.

The Council strongly recommends a framework for both immediate and long-term action to minimize public and environmental exposure to elevated levels of radioactivity from oil production, and to assure proper management of oilfield NORM:

l. That an Inter-agency Work Group be immediately detailed, consisting of representatives of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, Divisions of Waste and Water, and Cabinet for Human Resources, Division of Radiation Control, with technical assistance from the Kentucky Geological Survey, to:

a. Issue appropriate orders to demand immediate action by responsible parties to isolate, characterize, and remed- iate radioactive contamination in those areas where levels of external gamma (Ra-226) exceed 5 pCi/gram; such orders to require immediate notification of all landowners where such areas are located, fencing and posting of areas to minimize human exposure, appropriate actions to control run-on and runoff from the areas of contamination, and containerization and removal of contaminated areas to secure storage;

b. Develop a work plan for a prompt and comprehensive survey of oil-producing regions to determine the extent of problems from the various oil fields; including a survey of tank batteries, pits, land application units, surface impoundments, and the fate of oilfield equipment and piping that has been "recycled" as scrap in order to assure that the end use of any equipment and piping that may be contaminated with radioactive scale is not posing any health risk;

c. Finalize regulations already under development by the Cabinet for Human Resources, including regulations ad- dressing the proper management of radioactive oil-related wastes including licensing, equipment decontamination, waste treatment, storage and disposal requirements, procedures for characterization of oil production piping, equipment, drilling muds, produced water and other wastes for radioactivity, site characterization and remediation requirements for areas contaminated with radioactive wastes; surface and groundwater monitoring; and other aspects of a comprehensive program for management of oilfield radioactive wastes;

d. Coordinate the regulatory functions of the various agencies and divisions to assure prompt and effective response to and remediation of instances of environmental contamination from oilfield NORM wastes. Other agencies that should be involved in the coordination effort include Ky.OSHA, to assure that workers in areas associated with oil production and processing of crude oil, as well as the maintenance of equipment and disposal/recycling of oilfield scrap metals, are not exposed to unsafe levels of Ra226 or radon; and

e. Undertake, in conjunction with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a health assessment of the communities located in the Martha oil field to ascertain whether there are elevated levels of cancers or other illness associated with excessive radiation exposure.

2. Existing regulatory programs, including the issuance of permits under state waste and water discharge programs, should be reviewed to determine whether additional monitoring parameters, effluent limitations, and other controls should be placed on disposal of wastes and wastewaters that may be contaminated with NORM. Among the issues to be addressed would be the suff- iciency of existing requirements for produced water pits and discharges, and the reopening of KPDES permits to including appropriate limitations on radiation in wastewaters; the closure and disposal of sludge and mud pits associated with oil production under the state regulations and whether such radioactive wastes are entitled to the status of "special wastes" in light of the higher potential toxicity of the wastes.

The proposal to use an inter-agency work group would blend the expertise and resources of the various state agencies to develop an effective strategy for early detection, control, secure storage and disposal of NORM, and for assuring that public exposure and uncontrolled environmental exposure will be minimized.

The Cabinet for Human Resources (CHR), in addition to its general powers, has both a specific mandatory duty to adopt regulations for registration and licensing of individuals concerning the handling and disposal of radioactive materials, and a broad statutory grant of authority to craft a program for evaluation and control of the hazards associated with NORM and other sources of radiation. KRS 211.844(1); 211.842(3); 211.025. CHR has been designated as the lead agency for radiation control in the Commonwealth; KRS 211.842.

The Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet has similarly broad powers to issue remedial orders for abatement and alleviation of activities and conditions where the Cabinet determines that such an action is necessary to abate a condition presenting a danger to the health or welfare of the people or damage to natural resources. KRS 224.10-410. Additionally, the agency has the authority to take actions to assure that the disposal of oil production wastes is conducted in a manner that does not pose a threat or potential threat to human health or the environment. To the extent that the oil production sludge/mud/brine pits are posing a threat or potential threat to human health or the environment due to high levels of radioactivity, the agency is obligated to act to require that the uncontrolled status of such materials be corrected.

I have discussed the concept of an Inter-agency Work Group with Secretary Shepherd and Masten Childers at CHR, who concur in principle with the need for integrated efforts to address the problem. I am seeking your involvement in this matter to assure that the proper priority is given to the immediate isolation, containment and remediation of known areas of contamination, and that adequate regulations governing the long-term issues of generation and management of oilfield radioactive wastes be developed with due dispatch.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Tom FitzGerald

Director


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