In a recent conversation with a colleague, we discussed the then and now of drilling. Reflecting back to 1988, it was jarring to realize that we have entry-level Geologists & Engineers today that were born that year! They won’t ever truly know what it was like then, and how far the drilling industry has come. They would be amazed at the lives, limbs, and hearing lost over past decades, and shocked about the distinct double-standard that existed regarding contamination issues on job sites.
In 1988 the central focus of contamination on jobs sites was underground; there was absolutely no concern regarding handling of contaminated equipment above the ground. Oftentimes I observed drilling firms lay augers in the gutter and wash them down (contamination and all); the dirty water went right down the storm drain to our rivers. The main focus was “clean-up” and removing all signs of silt from the gutters. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t anyone trying to be sneaky, as this was being done while the regulator was on-site observing the grouting of the well. There were some instances where experienced geologists expressed concern over where the water was being discharged, some drilling companies meagerly attempted to wash off augers in 55 gallon drums or they laid down tarps and waddles in an attempt to contain the rinsed off water. More times than not, those implementations failed.