Martha Reclamation Program: Dump and Run

Toxic Soup: Ashland's Radioactive Sludge Pits

Toxic Soup: Radiation at Blaine Elementary School

Friday, January 29, 2010

Who Knew?

Many of us had thought that dumping brine water from oil wells into creeks and unlined pits was just common industry practice.  Ashland seemed to do it all the time.  And in these parts it wasn’t just Ashland doing it.

However, this study of oil field waste disposal practices shows something different.  The summary of the study was pretty clear:
…oil field production problems have been with us for many decades…the oil and gas industry, through the American Petroleum Institute  – a trade association, appointed a committee, the Committee on Disposal of Production Wastes, to examine the problem.  The Committee issued a report through its Chairman, V. L. Martin, in 1932, at an API chapter meeting.  That API report further discredited the use of pits or “evaporation ponds” because they don’t result in disposal by evaporation, except in unusual cases, and they cause seepage into the ground and groundwater.  A later report (Elliston, 1942) by the API Central Committee on Drilling and Production Practice recommended tanks and injection wells for disposal of produced water.
Ashland’s geologists and engineers must not have received the memo.  You’d think that after all those years of going to API conventions they would have picked up a few industry best practices and brought them back to the Martha Oil Field.  However, it looks like they must have just spent all their convention time hanging out in cocktail bars and strip joints because we didn’t see any evidence in these reports that dumping produced water into creeks was a best practice for brine disposal.  It’s bad enough that they would salt up the waterways and the water table around here but when you add radioactive radium to the mix it’s an example of negligent, reckless business practices.

Ashland, clean up your mess!

(hat tip to Elizabeth Burns)

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