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Monday, February 3, 2014

This just in from the Ministry of Bad Ideas

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
RangeResources wants to start using gas well drilling "cuttings" -- the waste rock material brought to the surface at well drilling sites -- as a paving material to build Marcellus and Utica shale gas drilling pads and access roads...
"The project involves the beneficial use of vertical drill cutting from natural gas wells as an aggregate in a stabilized soil pavement for construction of Marcellus and Utica Shale well pads and access roads," according to a notice in today's Pennsylvania Bulletin, where state permitting actions are recorded...
The drilling cuttings material is classified as residual waste and now is either buried on site or transported to a landfill for disposal. In 2012, shale gas drillers disposed of about a million tons of waste in Pennsylvania landfills, most of it drill cuttings...
Some of those drill cuttings trucked to landfills set off radiation alarms, causing the DEP, in January 2013, to start studying and testing for radioactivity in drill cuttings, wastewater and equipment at more than 100 sites across the state...
...Briana Mordick, a petroleum geologist and staff scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said drill cuttings can potentially contain radiation or other contaminants associated with drilling mud. If used as paving material, those contaminants can leach or wash out of the material and pollute soil and nearby waterways. 
Range apparently claims it would use vertical drill cuttings only. As if they don't present a risk of radioactivity  or public health impacts.

This use is hardly "beneficial" to any entity besides the company. In the name of cost-saving, it would create an unnecessary risk to water, soil, wildlife, habitats, and human health. And give the industry more of a bad name. It should be categorically rejected by DEP.

September 17, 2014 update:  Alas, DEP approved this bad idea, and environmental groups have appealed the permit.

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