Turning Drilling Waste into Roads

ND Tests New Technologies to Recycle Waste
ND Tests New Technologies to Recycle Waste

The North Dakota Department of Health has approved a pilot project to test new technologies to recycle solid drilling waste.

One of the companies involved in the project is promising to revolutionize the industry by recycling Bakken drilling waste into material for roads or other uses. Nuverra has invested more than three years and $30 million into this initiative. Its process called Terrafficient can recycle 100 percent of that waste, according to company spokesperson.

Recycling drilling waste is a common practice in other states, but the Bakken’s high salt content has made it more challenging to develop a process that protects the environment.

Related: Recycling Waste Water is Big Business

Scott Radig with the North Dakota Department of Health said “Nuverra proposes to reuse the drilling waste in three ways: mix it with gravel so the gravel will compact better and not wash off the roads; reuse it as a road base material; and use it within municipal landfills as daily cover material.

Nuverra’s testing will include using the recycled material to construct a road within their landfill facility near Arnegard and a gravel road in central McKenzie County will be used to test mixing the recycled material with gravel.

Read more at nuverra.com

North Dakota Proposes New Bakken Waste Rules

Bakken Waste
Bakken Waste

On December 12th, the ND Department of Health (DoH) proposed new limits for oil waste disposal that would drastically alter the way the industry does business in the Bakken region. This comes after a study conducted by Argonne National Laboratory concluded that the level of radioactive material (TENORM) found in waste can actually be much higher than current rates and still be safe for oil and landfill workers.

Amounts of radioactivity are measured in units called picocuries, and the new proposal would multiply the amount allowed in waste material by ten times. Landfills choose to accept the higher TENORM material will be required to go through a new permit modification process, which will provide better accountability for the tracking of the radioactive waste.

Currently, approved landfills can accept waste of up to 5 picocuries per gram, which is approximately equivalent to background radiation. Extremely low standards were established because of a lack of available scientific data at the time,” said Dave Glatt, Environmental Health section chief for the NDDoH. “Our proposed rules are based on the best available science and will allow for the responsible and safe disposal of TENORM generated in North Dakota.

As with other shale oil industry issues that have potential environmental and health concerns, this  change brings mixed emotions from people with competing interests and those who are refuting the science of the report. The ND DoH has scheduled a series of special meetings in January to hear testimony and public comments concerning the proposal.

Read more about radioactive waste disposal

photo credit: joerodzcc