San Antonio Express/News — Sunday, May 3, 1964. Page 11H
7/20/2015: Transcribed media version to searchable text.
Two techniques originated by the petroleum industry for its own uses are expected to solve a major problem in the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The problem is the disposal of dangerous, sometime deadly, radioactive waste by-products.
Researchers at Halliburton Company’s Technical Center here, working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists have combined the oil well cementing technique with the hydraulic fracturing production stimulation technique to entomb radioactive wastes in an impermeable shale formation a thousand feet underground.
Final test series of the new disposal method is being completed this month at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
The method used at Oak Ridge begins by mixing the waste with a cement slurry, pumping the mixture down a hole drilled in the Conasuaga shale and then fracturing the shale to create a horizontal crack. The crack fills with the mixture to form a thin, horizontal sheet several hundred feet across. The mix sets to permanently hold the radioactive waste in the formation.
Subsequent injections form parallel sheets 10 to 20 feet above the preceding injection. Extensive experimental runs and test borings using radioactive tracers have confirmed location and extent of the sheets.
This approach combines conventional oil well cementing, which places a sheath of cement between the pipe and the hole itself as a protective measure, and formation fracturing, which fractures or cracks open a productive formation to permit more oil to be produced.
Union Carbide Corporation which operates facilities at Oak Ridge for the U.S. Atomic energy Commission, and Halliburton, which provides specialized oil field services such as cementing and fracturing worldwide, have collaborated on the project since 1960.
Oak Ridge has a radioactive waste disposal problem typical of the nation’s nuclear sites. Each year about four million gallons of waste, including the fission products as strontium 90, cesium 137 and ruthenium 103, are generated at Oak Ridge.
Among the disposal methods already tried have been dumping concrete-encased barrels of waste in the ocean or burying the waste in lead-lined containers. These are considered either to dangerous, too expensive or both.
A key part of the new method is an unusual cementing slurry developed by Halliburton. It is low in cost, it retains the radioactive constituents present in the waste and remains fluid for as long as 48 hours before setting to thus permit injection of large quantities of waste.
The mixing and pumping equipment used at Oak Ridge are similar to Halliburton’s oil field units except that they have been demounted and remotely controlled for protection against radiation.
“If this process is successful for disposal of Oak Ridge National Laboratory intermediate-level wastes, it has potential application at other Atomic Energy sites where suitable geological conditions exist,” the Atomic energy Commission says.
In 1965, the Youngstown Vindicator published an AP article covering the Oak Ridge story but gave no credit to Halliburton for developing the fracking procedure to sore nuclear waste. This story, however added that “fly ash” was one of the Halliburton “additives”.