KENAI (AP) A startup company to treat waste from drilling operations and store treated soils in Tyonek has been granted a one-year permit.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has given the go-ahead to a Tyonek Native Corp. subsidiary called Envirotech LLC.
The company has plans to build a similar facility near Nikiski if the Tyonek operation proves commercially and environmentally successful.
''We hope to demonstrate a good track record in Tyonek,'' said Derek Maat, environmental project manager for Envirotech. ''Then, based on those results, we hope to be able to mirror the same operation in Nikiski and set up the same facility here.''
The Tyonek drilling-waste treatment facility and disposal site employs a recently developed technology for cleansing and disposing of drilling waste more quickly and less expensively than traditional methods such as grinding and injecting or burying in landfills.
According to information provided by Maat, Envirotech's process involves mixing drill wastes with various nontoxic dry and liquid chemical reagents, creating a slurry.
The ensuing reaction essentially mimics natural degredation, only greatly accelerated in time. It oxidizes hydrocarbons and locks heavy metals and inorganic compounds in soils and sludge into a stable, nontoxic crystalline material that purportedly prevents any dangerous compounds from leaching into surrounding groundwater.
Those treated soils are safe to be used as on-site backfill, landfill site cover material and as road base and concrete additive, according to Envirotech.
Tests have shown the process effectively reduces or eliminates the leachability of contaminants and meets stringent tests required by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The process takes such toxic metals as arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury selenium, silver and zinc and converts them to silicate forms, which are the most stable forms of those metals.
Envirotech says the resulting materials will remain inert and stable for geological time frames from tens of thousands to millions of years.
Maat said it expects to begin commercial operations in August.
Maat said that conservatively, the Tyonek plant could treat 25 cubic yards of soil a day. For large-scale jobs, it could stockpile the soils on its site, but would expect soils to be excavated and trucked to the treatment plant, enabling the plant to handle it as it arrived.
Envirotech would assume ownership of the treated soils. The company's permit allows it to put the treated waste in a landfill that is maintained and monitored.
The company likely will explore opportunities to use the treated soil commercially, Maat said.
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