Saltwater Disposal Facility Remediation Impacted with NORM
The recent cold spell in Texas is yet another reminder of extreme weather events that often result in not only power outages and food/water shortages, but also a significant increase in the number of environmental risks as infrastructure fails—resulting in hazardous chemical releases with significant financial consequences. This is particularly acute in the oil patch where large quantities of toxic materials are stored in tanks and conveyed in pipelines exposed to the elements.
One noteworthy example is in North Dakota, where lightning strikes at saltwater disposal (SWD) facilities are being studied. As the state anticipates a significant increase in saltwater disposal permits, so too are the expectations of more lightning-related incidents. Many SWD tanks are fiberglass, which melt when struck by lightning and fire ensues, releasing contents that contain brine and oil. These incidents can quickly overwhelm containment barriers and result in significant environmental and financial consequences.
Recently, Roux was asked to respond to one such incident in North Texas. The facility was struck by lightning in mid-2020, sparking a fire that destroyed an entire tank battery, spilling oil and produced water that breached a secondary containment infiltrating the surrounding soil. Complicating the remediation of this and similar sites is the additional hazard of Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM), which is often present in produced waters.
The presence of NORM was a significant cost-driver, due to its associated higher handling and disposal costs. To reduce costs, waste materials were segregated and pressure-washed to reduce NORM levels, which allowed a significant portion of waste to be disposed of as non-hazardous NORM-contaminated material. This and other cost-saving measures reduced costs by more than $600K, and resulted in regulatory closure from the Texas Railroad Commission.
What can Roux do to help? From a claims perspective, Roux can evaluate contractor work scopes, make cost-saving recommendations, and provide expertise to determine whether remediation costs are considered reasonable and customary. Roux also combines engineering, scientific, and insurance experts with our in-depth knowledge of remediation, providing a cost-effective remedial program to address the complex issues associated with chloride, petroleum, and NORM-contaminated SWD sites. To connect with one of our experts regarding these issues, please contact us below: