Claims of environmental disaster in a recent letter to the editor opposing drilling waste disposal are somewhat absurd. Linking endangered bats to deep well injection of said wastes is a stretch of rational thought. Both bat species mentioned are indeed threatened, primarily from white-nose syndrome, a fungal infection. Wind turbines, the darlings of green energy advocates, produce a trifecta of results: energy for our human needs, bird blenders by day and bat blenders by night. The deep well injections done in accordance with environmental laws are very unlikely to damage already declining bat populations.
Endangered freshwater mussels are also dredged up (pun intended) as reasons to stop transport of drilling wastes. Several freshwater mussel species are already extinct. Water pollution is one factor in these extinctions, human over use another factor such as the now closed factories making buttons from mussel shells. Introduced competitors like zebra mussels have taken a toll on native mussels. However, the primary extinction factor is construction of dams and locks on our rivers. Prior to these construction projects, large rivers such as our beloved Ohio River had deep pools, sandbars, gravel bars, rapids and waterfalls. Several species of fish and mussels’ preferred habitat were these rapids, gravel bars and sandbars. These habitats were eliminated with the advent of dams and locks and species such as paddlefish and sturgeon that thrived in those habitats were driven to extinction (at least regionally). Another factor in mussel extinction is their life history. Freshwater mussel larvae are for a time parasites on fish gills. Some mussel species only used one species of fish for this intermediate life stage. Extinction of a fish species caused co-extinction of its mussel beneficiary.
Do not misunderstand the intent of this letter. Drilling wastes should be disposed of where produced, if deep well injection at said production site is feasible. Transport of drilling wastes across hundreds of miles seems illogical and uneconomic unless no suitable deep injection sites are found in the producing region. State laws prohibiting the deep well injection of wastes may be another factor in long distance transport of wastes.
As for drilling wastes containing radioactivity, the same can be said of nearly everything in our environment. This is called background radiation and varies in intensity with locale. Your neighbor may have a radon problem in their basement and your home may not. This is entirely due to the unequal distribution of radioactive elements in underlying soil and rock strata. Injecting drilling wastes with radioactivity into deep wells is highly unlikely to cause an issue for bats, mussels or humans.
In conclusion, I encourage readers to do their own research in regard to statements thrown out in letters to the editor. Don’t fall for questionable emotional pleas like saving endangered wildlife. Be skeptical of blanket statement from any source and seek to be informed on issues.