New perspectives in the use of horizontal wells for assessment and remediation
Remediation technologies can sometimes be established, but are not prevalent, for a variety of reasons; however, they can be subject to the forces of change. In some cases, creative economics promotes newuses, but also process improvements can drive newapplications and levels of acceptance. This is what is happening with the deployment of horizontal wells for site assessment and remediation. In essence, decreasing costs and a strategic shift, which can be characterized as “greater flexibility,” are two factors that have brought about a resurgence of horizontal well systems. The latter is specifically tied to moving from monolithic single well systems to segmented well systems and this article explains how this is a next-generation advancement in site assessment and remediation. As one example, nested, discrete horizontal profiling brings additional accuracy to assessment at sites, especially those challenged by access issues and also provides more directed treatment operations with a unique flexibility in dynamic groundwater systems. Also, with horizontal nested well systems, conceptual site models can be significantly enhanced with new perspectives and, depending on the situation, may provide significant economic advantages in deployment. Finally, this technological advancement creates a new paradigm in contrast, or rather as an adjunct, to vertical profiling and high-resolution site characterization. In fact, it opens up a new strategic approach that can be called high-resolution contaminant distribution, because flexible horizontal segmented well systems can be used to navigate “up the spine of the plume” providing discretized data sets that illuminate contaminant distribution in new ways.