Waste Dumped Illegally in Oregon

Chemical Waste Management company near Arlington, Oregon illegally buried over two million pounds of radioactive fracking waste.

Radioactive Fracking Waste Illegally Dumped in Oregon: This Cannot Stand

On February 13, 2020, Columbia Riverkeeper learned that Chemical Waste Management illegally accepted and buried over 1,294 tons of radioactive fracking waste just five miles from the Columbia River in Arlington, OR. In all likelihood, the radioactive fracking waste (let those words sink in) traveled through dozens of Pacific Northwest communities in rail cars. Eighty percent of the radioactive fracking waste was “filter socks,” equipment used to filter fracking fluids: this is typically one of the most radioactive parts of the fracking waste stream. It collects the radium, thorium, and other elements in elevated concentrations. In this case, some of the shipments were over 300 times above Oregon’s standard.
Chemical Waste Management’s actions have brought 2.5 million pounds of illegally dumped radioactive fracking waste into Oregon and created a de facto radioactive waste dump, with no public knowledge*.
It’s shocking that in 2020, as Oregonians strive to move towards clean energy, we are talking about “radioactive fracking waste” being dumped illegally in Oregon. And, according to the Oregonian, the company faces no fine and is still operating. This is absolutely outrageous. These events are a disturbing wakeup call about the toxicity and danger of the fracking process for oil and gas in the U.S.
How confident can we be that the leachate from the landfill is being handled properly? Is the company still piling waste up in the same landfill, complicating what could be difficult cleanup efforts in the future? How can it be that a company can illegally dump radioactive fracking waste in Oregon over a 3-year period and face no monetary penalty?
We need an independent investigation and answers to these questions.
The more I think about this, the more stunned and saddened I am by the implications of Oregon becoming a dumping ground for the recklessness and arrogance of the fracking industry. Fracking billionaires have hidden their costs by secretly shipping illegal radioactive fracking waste through our communities, dumping it just five miles from one of the West's most iconic salmon rivers, our Columbia River. This is unacceptable. Governor Brown and Attorney General Rosenblum must intervene and protect Oregon, immediately.


*Here’s the math: 1,284.66 tons x 2,000 lbs/ton = 2,569,320 lbs of radioactive fracking waste


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Radioactive Fracking Waste In Oregon? Unacceptable.


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2.5M Pounds Of Radioactive Waste Illegally Dumped In Oregon Landfill

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Radioactive Fracking Waste Dumped Illegally in Oregon

February 13, 2020: The Power Past Fracked Gas and the Stand Up to Oil coalitions issued the following joint statement in response to the Oregon Department of Energy’s notice of violation to Chemical Waste Management for illegally burying over two million pounds of radioactive fracking waste near Arlington, OR.

Joint Statement from Stand Up to Oil and Power Past Fracked Gas Coalitions:

  • “Today’s shocking announcement underscores the need to break from dirty fossil fuels. We’re calling on Governor Brown to protect all Oregonians from dangerous fracking waste,” said Dan Serres, Conservation Director for Columbia Riverkeeper and Co-Director of the Power Past Fracked Gas Coalition. “At every step, fracking is dirty and dangerous.”
  • “It’s a flagrant disregard for health and safety,” said Anna Doty, Director of the Stand Up To Oil coalition. “Whether fracking waste or crude oil, we cannot continue to allow the oil and gas industry to put our communities at risk by transporting and storing their toxic products unchecked throughout the Northwest.” 
  • Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility has researched and witnessed the negative health impacts that the process of fracking both oil and gas causes for decades. We are deeply concerned that Chemical Waste Management has illegally dumped radioactive waste that could harm Oregonians, wildlife, and waters,” said Lluvia Merello, Energy Justice Organizer for Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.
  • “I call on Oregon to take immediate action to investigate and require Chemical Waste Management to remediate the damage,” said Cathy Sampson-Kruse, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation and a Columbia Riverkeeper board member. “The action by Chemical Waste Management endangers all living beings in the path of this fracking waste as well as our land, air, and waterways.”
  • "It's absolutely outrageous that radioactive fracking waste was apparently shipped through Spokane with no public knowledge," said Laura Ackerman, Energy Program Director for the Lands Council in Spokane. "Our area depends on a sole-source drinking water aquifer. We cannot keep gambling with oil trains and fracking waste trains posing a threat to our drinking water and safety."

This is a developing story and we will continue to monitor the situation.

  • Notice of Violation, Chemical Waste Management hazardous waste landfill near Arlington, Oregon, February 12, 2020
  • Press release, “ODOE issues notice of violation for disposal of radioactive materials at Arlington landfill” February 12, 2020  
  • The process of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) uses tremendous amounts of fresh water which gathers and concentrates naturally occurring radioactive elements from rock formations. Filtering and processing the fracking fluid further concentrates the radioactive pollution. 
  • Rolling Stone recently reported that U.S. oil and gas wells produce almost one trillion gallons of liquid fracking waste yearly.