If you’re going to drill a hole, you’re going to have dirt. That dirt, unfortunately, has to go somewhere. Welcome to everyone’s favorite topic in our industry: waste-handling. A single 2-inch PVC monitoring well drilled to 50 feet with hollow-stem augers generates about 1.2 tons, 18 cubic feet or 2.5 drums of soil. That’s a lot. And as we all know, the cuttings, or spoils, add up quickly as the scope of work gets bigger.

Particularly on environmental investigation/remedition sites, dealing with all that waste is a thankless task. While the well installations and sub-surface samples provide useful data to move along project objectives, the disposal of the soil and water often is no more than an inconvenient afterthought. Regardless of how non-gratifying the process may be, it easily can amount to an additional 10 percent to 25 percent on top of the drilling budget. Initial anxiety over waste-handling typically stems from simply trying to figure out how much waste will be generated. WDC (WDC Exploration & Wells, Sacramento, Calif.) always has felt that knowledge is power, which is why we’ve always kept our “Volume Calculator” prominently displayed on our Web site (www.wdcexploration.com/tools/volume.xls). But the raw numbers are just the first step. Figuring out the containment configuration, staging, transport, etc., usually brings on the next stage of consternation. Do not fear this step.