Drill cuttings, which consist of ground rock and residual drilling fluids, are generated in the form of by-products from our operations. As part of our focus on waste reduction, we actively explore and implement methods to minimize waste through a beneficial use program.
Areas where drill cuttings can be reused are: construction materials in road pavements, bitumen and asphalt or use in concrete or cement manufacturing.
We selected third-party waste management facilities for voluntary audits in 2017 based on current disposal volumes and our future outlook for production fluids and drilling solids disposal. The audit results helped us select vendors with practices that best align with our standards, who have the ability to safely and responsibly handle larger volumes of waste and with a focus on material recycling for beneficial use.
Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM)
Naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) can be brought to the surface with produced water during oil and gas operations, and may accumulate on equipment. In accordance with regulatory requirements and our own NORM Management Program, employees and contractors are trained and certified annually to understand which of our operations, locations and equipment are associated with NORM exposure. Currently, production water radiation levels in our operations in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah are at background or are marginally detectable. Our protocols in these same areas of operations focus on management of NORM contaminated equipment including the proper procedures to work safely around NORM. In our training, we emphasize utilization of personal protective equipment and how to detect, handle, store, transport and dispose of NORM. In 2017, surveyor training was conducted for 28 personnel who inspect for NORM in our operational field offices. This training is offered annually, and employees are required to receive NORM surveyor training once every two years.
In addition to awareness training, in 2017 we completed 1,200 surveys on NORM waste and NORM-impacted equipment, and safely disposed of nearly 1,800 barrels of NORM waste.
We also initiated an improved tracking process for NORM waste and conducted baseline NORM surveys on our facilities and equipment. Baseline data will allow us to track the concentration of NORM over time and ensure that levels continue to remain low.