Drilling Wastes From Research Wells Below Federal Guidelines, Team Says
West Virginia University (WVU) researchers studying drilling wastes produced from a pair of research wells near Morgantown say they are well below federal guidelines for radioactive or hazardous waste, the university reports.
Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at WVU, will present the team’s findings at the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory (MSEEL) on 20 July at the Appalachian Basin Technology Workshop in Canonsburg, Pa.
WVU said Ziemkiewicz and his research team are studying the solid and liquid drilling wastes that are generated during shale gas development, including drill cuttings, muds, and produced water.
Drilling a horizontal well in the Marcellus Shale produces about 500 tons of rock fragments, known as cuttings. WVU researchers have been studying the radioactivity and toxicity of the drill cuttings, which are trucked on public roads to county landfills.
MSEEL scientists found that using the green drilling mud BioBase 365 at the well site resulted in all 12 cuttings samples passing the US Environmental Protection Agency’s test for leaching toxicity, allowing them to be classified as nonhazardous for nonradiological parameters such as benzene and arsenic.
They determined that the drilling mud exerted a strong influence over the environmental risks associated with handling and disposing of drill cuttings.