Radioactivity, Science

“Dear Aunty, does flowback really have radioactivity in?”

Well, of course it does you silly sausages!

But that doesn’t mean we need be overly concerned about it, cherubs, because it’s only there in really tiny amounts and its handling, storage and disposal are all tightly regulated.

In fact, the levels are so small, you can only measure them with sophisticated and highly sensitive apparatus in a laboratory – not with one of those hand held Geiger Counters, as people call them, which just aren’t sensitive enough.

The type found in flowback from oil and gas wells, dears, is called Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material or NORM. And, my goodness, it’s everywhere! It’s in soil, in rivers, and in rocks like granite – and shale.

It gets into the flowback water in the form of tiny wee particles of the shale rock itself.

This is good news, because it means it’s possible to remove these suspended solids by various filtration techniques. It’s better news because the main radioactive element emits alpha radiation, which is a very weak form of energy and cannot travel far in air, but better still, water (within which it’s contained in the flowback waste) acts as a natural barrier, and so the chances of you or I ever coming into contact with it are very remote my darlings.

Just remember, people who smoke are at much greater risk of exposure to harmful amounts of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material – something I notice a lot of people were doing during the protest camp at Balcombe 😉

And lastly, we shouldn’t overlook the significance of this comment from Greenpeace on their Energy Desk website:

“In the UK, fracking companies must obtain permits for the safe disposal of radioactive material. Radioactive waste is not dangerous if properly handled”

Which it is.

Until next time xxx

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