I am trying to learn about the good and bad issues connected with the use of recycled drill cuttings as fill for roads and building sites. Since Lycoming County has Clean Earth Inc. who I believe does that kind of work, I am wondering what the experience of people in the area has been where this material has been used. What are the pluses and minuses? I hope to hear from someone with experience in the area.

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We do this type of work in both Texas and Louisiana.  The good is that drillcuttings make an excellent base material - typically 20-30 lbs/cubic foot more dense than any other building material.  With that said, the drilling fluid that coats all of these cuttings needs to be green by some definitive standard.  Second, even if the fluid is very green, there may be chlorides in the formation that you do not want spread on the ground.  Having green fluids are easy to say, difficult to do because it must be as good or better than oil based mud as a drilling fluid, per se.  Ours (Binder's) is and we have the ability to wash the chlorides from these cuttings.  Another good - the non soluble polymer we add to make the locations is about 10x stronger than the main product used: "soil cement".  Soil cement has a little known downside - when exposed to rainwater, the pH of the water rises to over pH 12.  Hope this helps.

Thomas,
I am so happy to hear from someone that has factual information about this process that is a volatile topic in Guernsey County, Ohio. I've read that it has been done successfully in other states but hear only horror stories about what might happen if used here. So please bear with me as I ask a few questions. I've been told that the Federal EPA has given high marks for the process in some states. Is that true? One of the main concerns here seems to be the radioactivity in the cuttings. Is that a problem that you are able to work around? What is the pico-curie(?)rate of the material that is used for fill.

Several of us in Cambridge, Ohio are trying to make an informed decided ision as to whether we are for or against a project in our county by Energreen360 and want facts from independent neutral sources. It looks like you might be one. Thanks for your help.

Kathi:

Not sure about the radioactivity, as we have not encountered it. However, in years past, I did work extensively with uranium recovery (uranyl trisulfate and uranyl tricarbonate).  To wash it free from the solids we used a standard mining technique referred to as countercurrent decantation (CCD).  This will wash the uranium and/or radium off of the solids, but if I were you, I would want this done to the solids in question in your area.  Clearly, we could encapsulate these solids into the high strength structure, but hesitate to suggest it because radium has such a long decay half life.  Further, even if it is no higher than it was underground, it is/was underground vs at the surface.  

Suggest the wash approach - we have some scientists that ran CCD tests for Kennicott Copper and Lucky Mac Uranium, so could outline a procedure if you get to that point.

Thomas,
Are you familiar with Road bond ENi Soil Stabilizer. I read that this is the process they want to use.

Kathi

Kathi, do not know it but will google it to see what they say.

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