Waste Management

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Although our industrial society produces a variety of solid wastes and waste waters, over the past 50 years we have made progress in disposing of them safely in landfills, by incineration, and in underground injection wells. Many wastes are also increasingly recycled or reused.


An old computer recycling farm in the Midwest. Image Credit: USGS/Photo by Carl Orazio.

An essential goal of waste management is to dispose of waste without contaminating water, soil, and air. Many wastes are disposed of safely in engineered landfills, by incineration, and in underground injection wells. All of these processes of waste management are monitored and regulated closely.[1] Waste management can also provide economic opportunity: generating energy from landfill gas; recycling to produce new materials from used plastic, paper, glass, or metal; or composting to produce rich soil from yard and food waste.   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute

Latest News

April 26, 2017 The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing on April 26 to examine a discussion draft of a bill that would amend certain provisions of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA) to streamline management and licensing processes for nuclear waste disposal...
An earthquake-resistant pipeline crossing the San Andreas Fault at Cholame, California. Image Copyright © Michael Collier http://www.earthscienceworld.org/images
On Thursday and Friday, December 1-2, the National Academies' Roundtable on Unconventional Hydrocarbons held a workshop on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Development: Legacy Issues, Induced Seismicity, and Innovations in Managing Risk. The meeting brought together experts from industry, academia, state...

Case Studies & Factsheets

Cover of Using Produced Water
Opportunities and Concerns in Using Produced Water Produced water is natural groundwater that is extracted along with oil and gas. It is commonly salty and mixed with oil residues,1 so it must be either disposed of or treated and reused. About 2.5 billion gallons of produced water are extracted...
Cover of AGI Factsheet 2017-001 - Recycling as a source of mineral commodities
Why Recycle? Recycling saves energy, money, materials, and natural resources, while reducing landfill use. It supplements the national supply of essential materials, reducing dependence on imports. As more minerals and materials become critically important - particularly in advanced technologies -...
Cover of Non-Fuel Products of Oil and Gas
Introduction Oil and natural gas are complex mixtures of chemicals. Oil refineries and gas processing plants extract the organic compounds that make the best fuels for transportation, heating, and electricity generation: gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, heating oil, and methane. Other chemicals...
Cover of Induced Seismicity from Oil and Gas Operations
Manmade Earthquakes Any activity that significantly changes the pressure on or fluid content of rocks has the potential to trigger earthquakes. This includes geothermal energy production, water storage in large reservoirs, groundwater extraction, underground injection of water for enhanced oil...
Cover of Spills in Oil and Natural Gas Fields
Introduction Oilfield spills can harm wildlife and pose a risk to human health if they reach fresh water sources or contaminate soil or air. The enormous size of the oil and gas industry and the huge volumes of oil and produced water that are handled, stored, and transported result in thousands of...
Cover of Geoscientists in Petroleum and the Environment
Introduction Geoscience – the study of the Earth – underpins our understanding of the many intersections between petroleum and the environment, from the search for resources to the study of air pollutants. Without the work of geoscientists, we would have neither the energy system nor the...

GOLI Online Courses

GOLI Course: Making Produced Water More Productive; Image credit: USGS/ Doug Duncan
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

Geoscience is essential to our understanding and management of produced water, an inevitable byproduct of oil and gas development. This course provides a scientific and regulatory background of produced water, how it is commonly disposed, what opportunities exist for the re-use of produced water...

GOLI Course: Induced Seismicity in the Mid-Continent; Image credit: USGS
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

This course provides information about induced seismic activity in the United States, specifically in the mid-continent. It includes information on mitigation planning, the state of seismic monitoring at the state level, and the challenges in communicating the science of the issue to the public...

Geological Surveys Database Publications

1984, Oklahoma Geological Survey
Molybdenite is recorded from the Willis Quarry (sec. 26, T6N-R21W), Greer County, Oklahoma.
1991, Oklahoma Geological Survey

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1991, Oklahoma Geological Survey

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1995, United States Geological Survey

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1992, Delaware Geological Survey
Agricultural fertilizer application, animal (poultry) waste, and wastewater disposal practices of the past 40 years have resulted in widespread nitrate contamination of ground water in coastal Sussex County, Delaware. Discharge of contaminated ground water to Rehoboth and Indian River bays is...
2015, Delaware Geological Survey
The hydrogeologic framework of Cape Henlopen State Park (CHSP), Delaware was characterized to document the hydrologic effects of treated wastewater disposal on a rapid infiltration basin system (RIBS). Characterization efforts included installation of test borings and monitoring wells; collection...
2015, Delaware Geological Survey
A rapid infiltration basin system (RIBS) consists of several simple and relatively standard technologies; collection and conveyance of wastewater, treatment, and discharge to an unlined excavated or constructed basin. By design, the effluent quickly infiltrates through the unsaturated or vadose...
2008, Florida Geological Survey

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2003, Utah Geological Survey
Damaging landslide movement in 1998 occurred near the end of a period of four or more successive years of above-normal precipitation, a period referred to as a precipitation period. The precipitation period begin in 1995 in the northern and central Wasatch Front where mean annual precipitation for...
1979, Minnesota Geological Survey

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