SAS Environmental Services Blog

The Importance of Getting to Know Your Oil Contaminated Waste

Posted by Sophie Cochrane on 09-Oct-2018 10:00:00
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When it comes to oil contaminated waste, knowing is half the battle. 

We talk to 100s of companies every year who are seeking solutions to their oil contaminated waste challenges. For about 80% of the cases we’re able to offer an effective solution. We’re able to deliver this level of success because we’re obsessed with truly understanding the waste and the overall solution.

Without understanding the waste and the broader context of the situation, it’s virtually impossible to offer a workable solution. In this post I share the types of questions we ask in order to get to the root of the problem and offer a viable solution. If you’re dealing with oil contaminated waste, you may find these questions useful as you explore possible solutions.

Understanding the waste: Over the last 18 years we’ve come across just about every type of oil contaminated waste… sludges, slops, drill cuttings, drilling waste, drilling muds, slurries, tank bottom sludges, refinery waste, thick emulsions, crude sludges, and many many more. In some cases, the terminology can be misleading. Some will call a “slop” a “sludge” or “drill cuttings” a “drilling waste”, and sometimes we just get, “it’s ugly black stuff”. This is why we are less concerned about the terminology and more concerned about the actual waste. For us, it’s not critical what it’s called. More important issues are what’s in it, what’s the objective, and what are the economic drivers? 

To effectively understand a waste, it’s important to ask some very specific questions:

  1. Specifically, what is the source of the waste?
  2. Is it all one type of waste or is it a collection of different wastes?
  3. If it’s a collection, specifically, what are the sources?
  4. Does the waste come from one site or multiple sites?
  5. Specifically, what has been done to the waste over what time frame?
  6. What is in the waste? – be as specific as possible. 

After answering these questions, everyone should have a pretty good idea of what we’re actually dealing with. This will give us a reasonable starting point for finding a solution.

Understanding the situation: The next step is to understand the full context of the situation. This can vary greatly depending on the waste, the location and the nature of the project.

There are some key questions we always ask:

  1. Specifically, what are you trying to achieve? Why? Why? Why? – Sometimes the first answer doesn’t provide the true motivation.
  2. Do you require the “perfect” solution or just a “better” solution? – While the starting point may be to find the perfect solutions, in many cases a “significantly better” solution is an excellent result. Where perfect may be cost prohibitive, “significantly better” may be feasible.
  3. What are the implications if you don’t find a solution?
  4. What are the drivers? – Oil recovery? Disposal costs? Access to water? Processing capacity? Waste volumes? Storage space? 

The answers to these questions will significantly influence the design and implementation of the best solution. Understanding the entire situation enables the development of the best solution.

If you have an oil contaminated waste treatment challenge, truly understanding the problem is the only way to find the right solution. These questions help us and hopefully they will help you in finding the right solution for your situation.

If you think we could help you find the right solution for your oil waste treatment please get in touch, we would be happy to hear from you! 

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