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Snyder forms advisory group to study Michigan waste disposal standards

Group will review Michigan standards for landfilling low-activity, naturally occurring radioactive materials

Monday, Aug. 25, 2014

 LANSING, MI - Gov. Rick Snyder today directed the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to assemble a panel of experts to review Michigan’s standards for disposing low-activity radioactive materials.

The action is to help ensure that Michigan’s current standards are still strong and sufficiently protective and to address recently expressed questions about landfilling of oil and gas wastes that contain low levels of Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials, or TENORM.

 Every state sends TENORM materials to landfills, but each state sets its own criteria. Michigan’s criteria was established in 1996, and affirmed in 1999 by a U.S. Department of Energy study. The Michigan standard was devised originally by the “Low-Level Radioactive Waste Regulatory Advisory Committee,” assembled to recommend safe levels.

“We remain deeply committed to protecting public health and Michigan’s precious water resources,” Snyder said. “We believe the standard in Michigan remains protective of our people and our natural resources, but this advisory group of diverse experts, similar to the assembly that developed our standards, can provide an important, science-based and driven review to make sure that’s still the case.”

The group will review Michigan’s standard and look for improvements to ensure protection of public health and the environment. Members will represent:

  • Health/Physics field
  • Medical Community
  • Academia
  • Environmental Community
  • Environmental Consultant Community
  • Waste Disposal Industry
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Radiological Protection Section of the DEQ
  • Public Member

Radiation occurs naturally in the environment. In addition to the byproducts of oil and gas production, TENORM is found in filter materials from water treatment plants, environmental cleanup waste and commercial products like fire bricks.

“Radioactive material – even the low-activity, normally occurring variety – warrants careful handling and disposal,” Snyder said, “and this look at Michigan’s standards is an imperative effort. We look forward to their rigorous review.”