O&G companies urged to clean, reuse drilling muck

Posted: Apr 17, 2013

Written by

Bruce Finley, Denver Post
Drilling retention pond

While Colorado's drilling boom produces record amounts of gas and oil, the multiplying wells also are bringing up far greater quantities of a salty, toxic liquid waste — 15 billion gallons a year.

If cleaned properly, all that liquid could become safe water to restore rivers, irrigate food crops and sustain communities in an era of drought and declining water supplies. Or at least it could be reused by oil and gas companies to reduce their draw of fresh water from farmers and cities.

But Colorado leaders have no policy for reusing oil and gas industry waste. More than half is injected untreated into super-deep wells — filling rocky voids from which oil and gas was extracted. Other waste is dumped in shallow pits, stored in evaporative ponds or discharged after partial treatment under state permits into waterways.

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