- Radioactive sources taken into Barton Moss
- Used for making measurements down well
- Schlumberger contracted to do the work by IGas
- Contact for extended periods very dangerous
- If damaged can release radioactive material
- Industry history of loss and mishandling sources
- Repeatedly lost during transport between sites
- Have turned up a month later at sides of roads
- Or in scrap metal shipments across the globe
- Mislaid radioactive sources very dangerous
- Have killed and injured hundreds of people
- Just in Texas over 400 sources lost down wells
- Likely to spread contamination as they degrade
- Fracking spreading use into local communities
- Thousands of wells mean many more sources
A photograph taken yesterday (see above) shows a lorry transporting radioactive sources for well logging into IGas’s Barton Moss fracking site, near Manchester. The Salford Star has confirmed that oil services giant Schlumberger has been contracted by IGas to do the well logging. These radioactive sources are lowered down the well in order to measure the properties of the rock that is being drilled through. This highlights one of the numerous secondary impacts of fracking; proliferation of such dangerous activities in our communities.
The sources involved appear to be Caesium-137, a gamma ray source with a half life of 30 years used to make rock density measurements, and Americium-241/Beryllium, a neutron source with a half life of 432 Years used to detect liquids in the rock pores. These are the two most commonly used radioactive sources in well logging and could cause significant harm to anyone with prolonged exposure. They would be even more dangerous if they were broken open and the materials ingested. This is an entirely separate issue from the radioactivity brought to the surface by fracking.
In 2012 Halliburton lost a Americium-241/Beryllium neutron source off the back of a truck while moving it between fracking sites in Texas, triggering a massive search involving the National Guard. Despite this the source lay on the side of a road for almost a month before it was found. While portrayed as an isolated incident, in 2002 two similar sources were lost by Haliburton in Nigeria. The sources were eventually found by chance among a scrap metal shipment in Germany.
Also in 2002 the same Schlumberger which is now helping IGas was fined for exposing 31 workers to an unshielded well-logging source at a drilling site in Havre, Montana. In 2006 Schlumberger lost a radioactive source on the side of a road while it was being transported through Western Australia. In 2008 Schlumberger was fined for losing a radioactive source on the drill floor of a rig in the North Sea.
The dangers associated with the mishandling of such sources are very real. In 1987 a Caesium-137 source taken from an abandoned hospital in Goiânia, Brazil and sold to a scrap metal dealer resulted in four fatalities (including a 6 year old girl), the contamination of at least 249 people and a six month clean effort that involved monitoring 100,000 people, removal of large amounts of topsoil and demolishing several blocks of the city. There have been numerous similar incidents around the world, often resulting in serious injuries or even deaths.
In Texas alone over 400 radioactive sources have been lost down oil and gas wells in the last 50 years. Most of these sources will eventually be broken down by the harsh environments they are in, contaminating the wellbores and potentially aquifers they intersect with. In California in 2006, a stuck Caesium-137 source was broken open inside a well, requiring the disposal of the contaminated drilling mud, and implementation of a 300-year long monitoring program by the operator (as if the operator will exist in even 30 years!).
The spread of fracking is resulting in the increasing transport and use of this dangerous industrial equipment in local communities. Over 9000 radioactive well logging sources are already in use worldwide and the thousands of wells a year required by fracking would bring large numbers of them to . However, this is just one of a whole range of severe impacts including Water Contamination, Air Pollution, Radioactive Contamination, Human Health, Agriculture & Animal Health, Wildlife, Methane Migration, Climate Change, Fracking Waste,Water Usage, Earthquakes, Transport, Pipelines, Blowouts, Spills & Explosions, Frack Sand, Leaking Wells, Orphaned Wells, Industrialisation, Secrecy, Oppression, Corruption, and Bubble Economics.