Cutting Down on Dust | VideoChris Williams | 1/4/2013
The simplest way to keep the dust from flying is to keep the roads wet. The question is, which kind of liquid mixture works best, and how much will it cost? A study was done in McKenzie and Dunn counties and took around a year and half to complete. Something researchers found out could save counties across North Dakota a lot of money.
Truck drivers are used to driving down small dusty roads, but that doesn`t mean they like it. "No one wants to breathe dust. If they just spray the roads with water that will help. They have water trucks that do that all the time," said driver Eric Bartley.
The most common chemical used to treat roads is magnesium chloride, which costs more than $5,000 a mile to put down. It works by taking the moisture out of the air and onto the road.
"We weren`t able to find anything better than that. We tried eight or ten different products to see whether there was anything that would work better than the magnesium chloride," said
retired Chief of Environmental Health, Francis Schwindt.
But there is one more thing that could potentially cut down dust on the roads, and it wouldn`t be too expensive to use because there`s plenty of it here in the Bakken: salt water.
"If we can find some other oil field brines that are higher in concentrations in calcium and magnesium, than sodium, they may work as effectively as the commercial products," added Schwindt.
By taking salt water directly from oil wells, the cost of spraying the roads would decrease dramatically.
"The oil field brine, there really isn`t any cost other than transportation and application costs," Schwindt said.
Schwindt says he would have to analyze the water to make sure it`s safe. "That`s something that we were looking at with Dunn county on. Kind of a second phase of this particular effort maybe do a little bit of more work in that area."
They also found that using higher quality gravel cuts down on dust as well.