The low-level radiation from the [Martha] oil field was discovered in 1988, when some old pipes from Ashland Inc. tripped a scrap yard's radiation detectors. The naturally occurring radioactive material, or NORM, was carried to the surface when wells in the Martha oil field were injected with pressurized water to force out crude.
Jeff Roberts, who is heading cleanup efforts in the Martha oil field for Ashland, said contaminated soil has been removed from well sites that showed higher than normal levels of radiation. That cleanup, he said, has been completed on 95 percent of the property affected. On the remaining 5 percent, property owners involved in the lawsuits have not allowed the company to do the work.
[Tom FitzGerald] said local residents have become increasingly concerned that Ashland may not have removed all of the contaminated soil and pipes from the land that the company has claimed to have cleaned up. The company, which once operated an oil refinery in nearby Catlettsburg, collected an estimated 115,000 tons of contaminated soil from well sites and stored it inside a plastic covering at an abandoned surface mine, Roberts said.
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