Anadarko makes some of that drilling mud available to farmers, but the company also has its own fields where the drilling mud is used to enrich the soil. Alfalfa or wheat is planted and grown. See: Energy Pipeline: Oil, gas industry rife with innovation
But, is it really beneficial, or safe?
That argument reminds me of the aluminum industry getting rid of fluoride (a chemical on the Right To Know Hazardous Substance list) by selling it to municipalities to add it to the drinking water. Now, a Harvard study has found that fluoride does negatively affect intelligence in children.
The idea to dump mud laced with various chemicals and heavy metals on farmland to grow crops is preposterous to begin with, especially without proper oversight. Landowners are therefore advised,
"to develop a formal contractual agreement with the company or individual responsible for disposal of the drilling fluid...
The agreement should stipulate testing requirements for drilling fluids and native soils..
The costs of sample collections, analyses, soil amendments..can be included in the contractual agreement as the responsibility of the company or individual responsible for the disposal of the drilling fluids".
Landfarming or land application is a process whereby drilling fluids are spread on the land surface...it is often preferred to reduce costs of disposal. It may include petroleum hydrocarbons, salts and/or heavy metals.
- Petroleum hydrocarbons including oil and grease can be toxic to plants in modest concentrations either due to direct contact or through adverse effects on soil properties.
- Salts in drilling fluids can affect both plants and the soil. Salts in drilling fluids can affect both plants and the soil. Another element, boron, can be toxic to some plants even at relatively low concentrations.
- Heavy metals are elements that may or may not be plant nutrients, but can be harmful to plant and/ or animal health in low to high concentrations depending on the element. Some heavy metals will cause plant death at high concentrations. Others can accumulate in plant tissue (without harm to the plant) to levels which are harmful or toxic to animals and/or humans.
The heavy metals most commonly found in drilling fluids include arsenic, barium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel and zinc. The amounts present will depend on the formulation of the drilling fluid and the geologic formations encountered during the drilling process.