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Environment dept seeks compliance information

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The New Mexico Environment Department has issued letters to about 20 oil and gas companies operating about 39,000 wells in the state asking them to describe their compliance status with rules governing natural occurring radioactive materials, known as NORM.

The companies have 60 days to respond, according to the Environment Department. The NMED plans to take whatever compliance actions are necessary in the coming months, a NMED news release states. Enforcement actions could include seeking fines of up to $15,000 a day or court injunctions.

According to the NMED, the state Environmental Improvement Board adopted regulations more than two decades ago that require oil and natural gas operators to obtain a license from the department if such activities as extraction, transfer, transport, storage or disposal of materials result in potential human exposure to NORM at certain levels.

Licenses require entities to provide details as to how the material is managed, handled and disposed of to ensure that public health and the environment are protected.

More information about NORM is available under the “radiation” section of the Environmental Protection Agency website, www.epa.gov.

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