Disposal Wells: Why Do We Use Them?

The oil, gas, and electricity that we generate and use on a daily basis all undergo an extraction process that creates hazardous waste. The produced waste needs to be disposed of properly for our health and safety, and for the welfare of the environment. One way we do this is through disposal wells that are placed deep into the earth’s surface – a method that is favoured by the oil and gas industry here in Canada. Let’s dive deeper into disposal wells and examine exactly why we use them.

Removing Waste Water Solution

During the oil and gas extraction process and hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” of shale gas,  contaminated water, which is considered to be hazardous waste, is produced. This wastewater contains heavy metals, chemicals, and sometimes even radioactive material. During the process, water transports oil and gas up to the earth’s surface, and if not disposed of properly or if spilled, the wastewater can cause serious harm to people and the environment. The safest option is to treat the water and return it back into the deep subsurface formations through a disposal well.

Cost Effective

Disposal injection is cost effective and has a low environmental impact. The other disposal alternatives – directly discharging treated waste into receiving waters, or reusing it for fracking, de-icing roads, or as treated water for irrigation – have high financial and environmental costs, including maintenance requirements. Disposal wells save money and are better for the environment.

Highly Regulated

Disposal wells are subject to strict regulatory requirements for operation and also location to ensure drinking water is not impacted. To obtain a disposal well you must go through an application and approval process. This procedure involves submitted detailed information on geological data, a proposed injection program, quantitative analysis from nearby freshwater wells, notice to landowners for comments and objections, and schematic drawings.

Strong Construction

These disposal wells are normally constructed of steel pipe and cement, with multiple layers of protective casing. The first outer layer will extend as deep as necessary to protect the surrounding groundwater. A second layer covers the entire well, and a third encloses the injection device. This provides a strong protective covering to avoid any potential breaches or contamination.

Altair Water and Drilling has decades of experience with drilling and managing the output of water wells in Western Canada. If you’re looking for advanced drilling services, we have the experience to manage your project. We can provide you with safe, cost-effective solutions for all of your drilling needs.