The tracking and accounting of our waste is an area of continuous improvement for the company. We use a custom web application called Point to Point to track our hauled water and waste streams used throughout a well’s lifecycle. Through this application’s database, a monthly report is prepared and distributed to operational and HSE leadership for each business unit noting the volume and cost of the solid waste generated. By building awareness, we challenge each business unit to reduce its waste production to minimize landfilling and its associated environmental impacts and costs.
While waste characterization and management can vary from state to state, Chesapeake is required under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to properly characterize all waste we generate. All active facilities across the company comply with their generator status — determined by monthly rates of hazardous waste generation. Currently, all Chesapeake facilities are designated as Very Small Quantity Generators. Chesapeake’s waste streams are nearly all RCRA non-hazardous. In fact, essentially all of our designated hazardous waste comes not from operations but from the Oklahoma City corporate office and ancillary facilities. In 2019, across the entire company, ~155,000 pounds of RCRA hazardous waste was generated or less than 1% of the company’s total waste.
Each operating area has a waste management plan which lists wastes generated, the characterization of the wastes in that jurisdiction, on-site management requirements and best practices, and approved waste disposal vendors. Each plan is reviewed and updated at least once a year by HSER and operations to address changes to state regulations, operations and vendor capacity.
As an example, one of our operating areas needed to add on-site compression to several production locations. This operational decision added a new waste stream to the business unit’s waste plan. HSER waste specialists characterized the waste and then worked with operations personnel to develop on-site management procedures and choose the most appropriate type of disposal based on waste and environmental impact minimization goals, feasibility, vendor availability and costs.
Examples of the elements of a waste management plan include:
- Treatment and reuse of produced water in operations
- Recovery of waste petroleum hydrocarbon liquids and sludges or energy
- Treatment and then beneficial use of materials for road base or mulch
- Implementation of closed loop drilling systems to reduce waste and enhance fluid reuse
- Use of wastes to conduct elementary neutralization
- Development of an eco-office exchange program to redeploy surplus office supplies
The waste plans in our Rockies, Appalachia and (now former) Mid-Continent operating areas, have been enhanced by a custom web application called Point to Point to track hauled water and operational wastes. Through this application’s database, a monthly report is prepared and distributed to the business unit noting the volume and cost of the waste generated. By building awareness, we challenge each business unit to reduce its waste production to minimize landfilling and its associated environmental impacts and costs.
Waste disposal is highly specialized, specifically in terms of waste minimalization and disposal, proper handling and removal and transport procedures. This includes the disposal of oil and gas wastes containing naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM). Natural gas and water produced from the earth’s crust may contain naturally occurring radioactive elements. Over time, surface equipment in contact with NORM may accumulate sediments. While the radioactivity emitted from the sediments on this production equipment is a fraction of regulated radiation worker dose limits, Chesapeake adheres to the radiation protection standard of As Low As Reasonably Achievable or ALARA to minimize exposure to workers and the public. Our HSER and Operations teams partner to measure the level of NORM on all locations using specialized radiation survey equipment and use that data to implement appropriate safe work practices, including the use of specially licensed and trained professionals to ensure it is properly handled and safely disposed.
This approach includes standard procedures for the safe handling of this material while under our control and ensures safe transfer for disposal or other disposition.