Reclamation of processed drill cuttings provides environmentally acceptable construction material for roads and pads thus minimizing the need to excavate materials from surface gravel pits. Regulatory agency policy goals of reduction in surface disturbance of Arctic environments, reduction of waste, and recycling of a natural resource can be achieved.

In order to adequately assess the compatibility of drill cuttings with the North Slope environment, information regarding the chemical composition of background soils is required. This paper reports on the work done by ARCO Alaska, Inc. to establish a primary database on the chemical composition of uncontaminated soils and gravels from various North Slope sites. Background samples have been analyzed by EPA Method 3050 techniques, and ranges for metals and salts have been accepted by the Alaska regulatory agencies.

Additionally, development of a secondary elutriate test method based on EPA Method SW924 is described as it was applied to analysis of background materials and drill cuttings. The technique evaluates the leachability of chemical constituents from various types of monofill materials.

Data are presented for materials excavated from several wells in the vicinity of the Prudhoe Bay Field. Processed and unprocessed drill cuttings are compared through analysis of the chemical constituents. Results indicate that the removal of clays and other fine particles through the water-based processing technique produces high grade construction material.

The techniques described in this paper are broadly applicable throughout the Arctic. Establishment of a chemical background database for the North Slope of Alaska will assist in minimizing environmental effects of placement of excavated material. In addition, techniques for processing and analyzing materials recovered from drilling operations in Alaska may be applicable to other Arctic areas where exploratory or development drilling is occurring.

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