Gran Tierra’s Waste Management Plan (WMP) recognizes the company’s responsibility to manage wastes properly. Waste is handled independently, according to the type (contaminated, organic, unusable or recyclable), through a process of separation at source.
One of the goals of internal management is always to reduce at the source the different waste generated by the operation and ensure as far as possible that the greatest amount of waste generated be reusable. Two examples of the reuse of waste are:
- In all GTE oil fields organic waste is composted. The compost is then used to fertilize gardens and to stabilize slope areas occupied by a project team.
- Plastic generated by operations is sent to a plastic recycling plant through a cooperative agreement that allows for more than 80% of the plastic to be transformed into products such as plastic wood posts, plastic wood planks, hoses and dustpans.
For waste that cannot be reused or recycled, the company’s overall approach is to utilize capable third party facilities, while minimizing volumes sent to sanitary landfills. It is taking steps to lower the volume of wastes to the extent possible and to recycle or reuse waste in cooperation with local communities when possible.
GTE has established a procedure for selecting waste management companies with the best environmental performance records in the region. This process requires a legal review of the company, internal and external audits and a review of their relationships with the environmental authorities and with the neighbors of their facilities.
Treating Production Waste Naturally
Bioremediation is the use of microorganisms to consume and break down environmental pollutants into less toxic or non-toxic substances. At the Los Angeles oil field in the Middle Magdalena Valley, Gran Tierra uses bioremediation to help dispose of production waste from the Los Angeles and Acordionero fields.
The waste is in the form of sludge resulting from development and maintenance activity such as cleaning storage tanks, wastewater treatment and anything that has come into contact with oils and certain chemicals. All incoming sludge is tested to determine its chemical characteristics and whether it can be managed using this process. If any of the fluids may damage the treatment process, they are handled differently.
GTE’s biological treatment process uses an excavator to mechanically separate the materials, allowing air to contact more surface area, stimulating bacterial growth and activity. The process, aided by sun and heat, is similar to composting vegetation. After three to four months of bioremediation, the treated sludge is tested to ensure it is safe. It is then reused as high quality garden soil at the oil field camps, internal roads in oil fields and as landfill filler. Approximately seven cubic meters of waste are treated each month.