Composting Camp, Drilling and Wastewater Sludge Wastes

Prudhoe Bay Oilfield, Alaska, 1998

The Need

Several factors are driving the need to test Arctic composting.

  • There has been some dialog that the State of Alaska may place a solid-waste composting requirement on all new North Slope oilfield developments.
  • When a field is shut in all gravel pads must be returned to a natural state. Soil is scarce and additives are needed for plants to re-establish themselves. Importing soil is expensive.
  • Food wastes are a major animal attractant to dumpsters. The state Fish and Wildlife agency has issued a mandate requiring minimizing any attractant for area wildlife.
  • The local landfill is nearing capacity and at the current rate of waste generation it will be closing within 6 to 8 years. Solid waste disposal costs have taken a quantum leap during the forth quarter of 1997 and are expected to increase again in 1998.

Who Initiated Program

The idea of Arctic composting was researched in 1995, however the drivers weren't in place establishing a need. The project was officially started by ARCO Alaska's Senior Consultant for Biological Services, Michael Joyce. He solicited assistance from a small group of Prudhoe Bay employees to test the feasibility of composting camp waste, sewage sludge and drilling mud in the Arctic. This group consists of Linda Beaupre, Moira Casey, Linda Rhoads and Harry Engel.


Several combinations of food waste, drilling mud, saw dust, shredded paper and cardboard and sewage sludge are being tested to determine which "recipes" create the best growing medium for native grasses. The humus produced through composting may be used as a soil additive which is necessary for gravel pad re-vegetation.


Turn what was a waste into an asset; extend the life of an overfull landfill; provide an economical alternative to disposing of waste generated in the oilfield.


As this is a pilot project no recruiting has been attempted. Other waste generators have heard of the project and have expressed an interest. Once successful humus is produced and tested for any heavy metals or biohazards the "recipe" and project results will be made available to others interested in Arctic composting.


Dr. Jay McKendrick of Lazy Mountain Research Center, Palmer, Alaska is providing technical assistance for proper growing medium of North Slope native plants.


The pilot project is being conducted in a 40-foot conex. A Compost Tumbler will be used as the retention vessel. The tumbler holds 18 bushels of organic material. Materials are shredded with a MTD yard chipper/shredder prior to being loaded into the tumbler. Due to the long winters with extremely cold temperatures composting must be done inside a shelter. This mades windrow composting impractical. If the project proves successful an in-vessel system will be researched and a cost/benefit analysis will be prepared.


ARCO Alaska, Inc. funded the pilot project. Costs for the Compost Tumbler, the chipper/shredder and a few miscellaneous supplies were less than $1,000.

Results & Impacts

Not available yet 


Not available yet 

Problems and/or Suggestions

Not available yet

Coordinator at time of project, 1994

Call or write to:

Linda Beaupre
ARCO Alaska, Inc.
Anchorage, Alaska 99510-0360
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