The annual Waste Expo, the nation’s largest trade convention for waste management & recycling professionals, has officially kicked off in the city of New Orleans, LA. The annual convention is a chance for professionals across the industry to get together and learn some of the latest trends in the wider industry, with several prominent industry experts slated to speak and provide seminars for attendees.

This year’s expo has been abuzz over the huge growth in waste disposal services in the fracking industry. This is the industry term for extracting natural gas and oil from shale formations that lie up to 15,000 feet below the earth’s surface. The process is similar to traditional oil drilling, but involves the fracturing of tough shale deposits which contains hydrocarbon-rich gases. This fracturing is usually accomplished through a combination of explosive detonations and a high-pressure slurry of water, sand and chemicals piped through the drill well.

Of course, this is a very messy procedure. So messy that fracking companies spend nearly $30 billion annually for waste disposal services on and around their drill sites, as reported by leading waste hauling companies at the Waste Expo. This huge demand in disposal services has created a large new subset of the fracking industry, namely those responsible for collecting and processing the copious amounts of waste produced by these fracking companies.

Most of this waste is composed of waste water left over from the process of fracturing the shale deposits. Companies that are contracted to remove the waste water must process it to remove contaminants, including the unspecified chemicals used to break up the shale. These companies are also contracted to remove the mud and rock leftover on the drill site which must be hauled away and disposed of away from the work site itself.

Many of these fracking sites are located on top of the Marcellus Shale formation; a large formation of shale that stretches across most of the Midwest, including parts of Ohio, New York, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. This natural shale formation contains a huge reservoir of methane and other hydrocarbons which can provide energy for millions of households and businesses along the East Coast.

The huge expansion of the fracking industry seems set to continue, as it provides a cleaner way of producing energy compared to traditional coal. That’s good news for the waste disposal industry as a whole, as well as those among us with a keen interest in developing cleaner sources of energy.

Via: The Times-Picayne