Radioactive waste in Oregon

Radon gas has become a concern since its presence in quantity was first detected and that’s because it can—and often does—result in cancers, sometimes fatal.  

Radon’s origin is the decay of radioactive elements found in soil and rock. Radon gas presents itself in human areas through the air we breathe as well as underground and surface water. Radon gas naturally occurs throughout the world and has been commonly found in Oregon, including where we live, here in the mid-Willamette Valley.

Additionally, we now learn that Oilfield Waste Logistic of Culbertson, Mont., has delivered to Arlington, Oregon, illegally dumped disposal of radioactive fracking waste at a chemical landfill there. And to date, with possibly more on the way, they’ve been unloading their toxic brew by misrepresenting it to the depths of 2 million pounds of radioactive waste. The documentation submitted reads that such material cannot legally be disposed of in Oregon, say officials with the nuclear safety division at the Oregon Department of Energy.

However, according to reports on the violation, the landfill operator in Gilliam County, Chemical Waste Management, is not facing any consequences by penalty of fine or otherwise. The 2 million pounds of radioactive material from Bakken oil fields in Canada’s Manitoba and Saskatchewan provinces as well as Montana and North Dakota, includes highly contaminated filters, tank sludge and slurry from drilling pipes transported to Oregon aboard unmarked railcars over the last three years with the “door open” apparently for more to come without the imposition of consequences or immediate removal of what’s already been delivered.

The Chemical Waste people report that Oilfield Waste Logistics did not truthfully describe the waste shipped to Oregon along with the disturbing fact that Chemical Waste also did not send samples to an independent technical expert for analysis prior to accepting it. Chemical Waste says they’ll work with the Oregon Department of Energy which sounds like a-day-late-and-a-dollar-short scenario as wimpy and irresponsible as anyone could dream up and expect publicly acceptable. 

Meanwhile, no one is being punished or forced by law or contractual obligation to correct what’s been done and those persons, apparently, who are twiddling their thumbs and generally ignoring this abomination, including Gov. Kate Brown and our legislators who are busy again fighting over carcinogenic emissions by a cap and trade law by which the Republican, once again, are threatening to walk out of the capitol and hide away like a collection of over-stimulated kindergarteners protecting their no-controls, benefactor-provided “candy” supply. 

So this collection of toxins from the devil’s kitchen sits and rots, spewing its cancer-causing agents into Oregon’s air and ground/surface water throughout the state, including the Columbia River. Then, also, there’s the exposure to anyone living nearby, tourists, commercial transports on I-84, general commerce, the dams and recreation.

This huge dump of toxins and carcinogens is an example of the result of the removal of regulations by the current federal administration. Regulations for safeguarding the public are going away. Business and industry are free to pollute and expose to health and life-threatening conditions, the lives of our children, our workers and the general citizenry. An opportunity to end the recklessness now underway rests with the American people in early November, 2020.