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OIL

AND GAS WASTE IN TEXAS Shale oil and gas production produces massive amounts of solid waste. Each foot drilled produces approximately 1.2 barrels of solid waste according to the American Petroleum Institute. 1 The waste contains chemical laden drilling fluids and mud, drill cuttings, slurry, heavy metals, radioactive material and other impurities from the formation. Waste from the oil and gas industry is not treated as hazardous due to a loophole in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act RCRA. 2 Pits: Unless prohibited by leases or ordinances, waste can be stored in earthen pits onsite. There are many different kinds of pits. Some pits are authorized and some require permits according to Statewide Rule 8. There is little oversight of pits. Pits in Texas are not required to be lined or fenced. Waste from pits can overflow during heavy rains and leach into soil and contaminate water and soil. Unfenced pits are hazardous to farm animals, wildlife and humans. In Montague County several cases of groundwater contamination where traced to buried pits. 3 Landfarming: Disposal of drilling waste is called landfarming. Permits issued for landfarming limit the waste to no more than 2,000 barrels per acre and no more than a total of 12 inches deep.4 The Texas Railroad Commission RRC regulates landfarming under three types of permits: Minor permits Allows an operator to spread waste from one drill site on a small area (usually at the drill site). Rule 8 states landowner permission is required but this is not enforced. 5 Honor based soil test required 30 to 90 days after application to land. 6 Confirmation of testing is near impossible for landowners to obtain. 7

1 Denton Record Chronicle, Practice lays waste to land 31 March 2011 2 Earthworks, Loopholes for Polluters,

http://www.earthworksaction.org/files/publications/FS_OilGasExemptions.pdf 3 WFAA, Drilling pits taint Montague County water 16 March 2011 4 Texas Railroad Commission, Surface Waste Seminar, Michael Sims, P.E, 3 August 2012 5 See note 4 6 Fort Worth Weekly, Toxic drilling waste is getting spread all over Texas farmland 12 May 2010 7 See note 6

Centralized landfarm 10 Requires environmental permit out of Austin. Allows one operator to spread waste from several drill sites on a larger area (3 acres). RRC circumvents the 3-acre limit by issuing numerous 3 acre tracts in one area. 11 Requires closure sampling.

Arkansas stopped honor based testing and revoked 11 landfarm permits after runoff caused water contamination. 8 The RRC is lax in tracking the testing. Records of soil tests showed up on only a handful of the thousands of permits being tracked.9

Commercial landfarm 12 Requires environmental permit out of Austin. Allows several operators to spread waste from several different drill sites. Requires closure sampling. In 2010, there was only one commercial landfarm for the entire Barnett Shale region. 13 Other Disposal Facilities: Reclamation Plants 14 Recover crude oil from oil and gas waste prior to disposal. Requires monthly report indicating origins of incoming waste, the amount of recovered oil, and disposal destination of all solid and liquid wastes. Commercial Separation Facility 15 Process oil and gas waste into its solid and liquid components, then ship the waste offsite for disposal. Liquid wastes are injected and solids are sent to landfill or disposal pit. Additional resources: StateImpact: How Landfarms For Disposing Drilling Waste are Causing Problems in Texas, 12 November 2012. Statesman: Public hearing at capitol on name, enforcement of Texas Railroad Commission, 18 December 2012
8 See note 6 9 See note 1 10 See note 4 11 See note 1 12 See note 4 13 See note 6 14 See note 4 15 See note 4