The New Rules Surrounding Drill Mud

A lot of our directional driller clients have recently been asking why they can’t dispose of their drill muds the way they always have. The talk usually starts with something along the lines of

  • “I have been taking it to my buddy’s place out in the woods for years!”
  • “I know a land farm that will take it straight out of a vacuum truck.”
  • “I know a sand mine that will take it.”
  • “There’s a small landfill nearby that doesn’t mind.”

A lot of experienced drillers have sent countless tons of bentonite mud and slurries to places like these for years and are confused why suddenly they’re being tasked with sending it to a disposal facility like SR&R. What has changed? In a word: enforcement.

These wastes technically should never have been handled this way, despite years of practice. First of all, for the places that are permitted for waste like land farms and Land Clearing and Inert Debris Landfills, they are not permitted for this type of waste. Some drill muds contain VOCs, are laden with metals, or contain contaminated soil.  Furthermore, none pass the EPA Method 9095 test (paint filter).  Secondly, for the unpermitted places (the buddy’s property, the little old farmer’s pumpkin patch) they are not permitted to handle any waste and doing so would constitute illegal disposal. In fact, the NCDEQ has now begun cracking down harder than ever. Their guidance on the issue is clear: these muds and slurries must be disposed of at a permitted facility and if it has any additives like polymers or fluids, then it must have a TCLP test run for VOC’s and metals.

That’s where SR&R’s solidification pit comes in. At our high capacity treatment and disposal facility, we can accept even the largest volumes of muds, even in tanker and vacuum truck loads. Or you can keep your crews moving and we’ll send our high capacity vacuum trucks to suck up and haul off the mud. We’ll handle the profiling, testing, compliance, and disposal and you can focus on what you do best: drilling. While this does add an additional layer of expense to your projects, smart contractors see it as insurance for when the state comes by or the utility client does an audit. For more information on how SR&R can help you safely and legally dispose of your drill mud, please contact us today.

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