Justin Nobel, Larysa Dyrszka, James Brugh and Host Kristin Schafer

Petroleum 238: A 7-Year Investigation of Oilfield Radioactivity

Each year, the gas and oil industry produces billions of tons of waste — much of it toxic and radioactive. The fracking boom has only worsened the problem. Where does this waste go? In this webinar, co-presented with the Collaborative for Health and Environment and the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN), Host Kristin Schafer will explore the topic with author Justin Nobel, Dr. Larysa Dyrszka, and James Brugh, a tribal member of Fort Berthold in western North Dakota.

Photo: Julie Dermansky.

Justin Nobel

Justin writes on science and environment for United States magazines, literary journals, and investigative sites. His investigation into the radioactivity brought to the surface in oil and gas production was published in 2020 with Rolling Stone Magazine, “America’s Radioactive Secret,” and awarded best long-form narrative by the National Association of Science Writers. Justin’s reports on this in his latest book, Petroleum-238: Big Oil’s Dangerous Secret and the Grassroots Fight to Stop It (Simon & Schuster 2024).

Larysa Dyrszka, MD

Larysa is a graduate of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Following residency and board certification in pediatrics, she practiced general pediatrics and held the position of Director of Pediatrics at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ. She has been a United Nations representative to ECOSOC with the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations, where her work was focused on children’s rights, particularly health. She is a founding member of Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development. Together, with fellow New York medical colleagues, she founded Concerned Health Professionals of New York.

James Brugh

James is a writer, husband and father, and tribal member of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in western North Dakota. He lives in the community of Four Bears and has advocated tirelessly for the protection of his family, the environment, and his community against rampant and relentless oil and gas development.

Host Kristin Schafer

Kristin is director of Commonweal’s Collaborative for Health and Environment, and three decades of experience in the field of environmental health and justice. After working as a Communications Specialist at EPA and with World Resources Institute in Washington, DC, she moved back to Northern California where she held various roles—including executive director—over her 25-year tenure at Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America. Kristin holds a Masters in Social Change and Development from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She lives with her husband in downtown San Jose where she loves to bike ride and garden, and currently serves as board co-chair for the community-building urban farm, Veggielution.