One of the big stumbling blocks when it comes to properly handling North Dakota’s substantial tonnage of radioactive wastes has been the time it takes for an accurate test of how much Radium 226 and 228 are present in a given load of the material.
Until recently, the disposal industry had been allowed to use only one of two tests, the HASL 300 and the EPA 901.1, both of which take a minimum of 21 days for results.
Now there is a third, much shorter option from a company calling itself TENORM Measurement Solutions. The company is now listed by the North Dakota Health Department on a website of facilities approved to test TENORM waste, or Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials.
Dale Patrick, manager of North Dakota Department of Health’s Radioactive Materials, Asbestos, and Indoor Air Quality, agreed that the lengthy time frame for an accurate test has been a problem.
“It is,” he said. “Otherwise, you’re restricted to the HASL 300 or the EPA 901. They have to wait 21 days for that, so what would happen is you’d have loads sitting around waiting for analytical results to come back, and we cannot have that.”
TENORM Measurement Solutions, however, has been able to show that its new method is accurate and reliable, Patrick said, allowing the state to license a new option that takes just under an hour. To maintain its license, the company will have to submit periodic reliability and accuracy checks to Patrick’s program.
Bob Morris is one of three principals involved in the new company, which was recently at the Bakken Oil Product and Service Show talking about its new process.
“What we are trying to do in the TENORM industry is manage a small problem so it doesn’t become a big one,” Morris said. “You cannot ignore the problem for 50 years and have a clean environment. You have to manage it as a chronic, routine problem.”
Accurate, rapid testing will help do that, Morris said.
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