Golf course well drilling complete; engineer says foaming agent not a concern

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Crews shovel up sediment from below the drilling site of Holiday Island's new golf course well on Highway 23 North. The drilling operation was suspended briefly April 6 after it was discovered sediment and a foaming agent were flowing into Leatherwood Creek from inadequate containment measures. Drilling resumed the next morning with a nod from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. CCN / Kathryn Lucariello

Drilling on the new Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District golf course well was shut down briefly last week when the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) received one telephone call expressing concern over possible environmental impacts.

ADEQ district field representative Bruce Kirkpatrick confirmed yesterday he had received one phone call April 5 reporting the water in Leatherwood Creek flowing through the Elk Ranch area was bright orange.

Kirkpatrick said he traced the source to the well drilling operation on Highway 23 North at the entrance to Holiday Island. The 1,800-foot well is being drilled under contract to Holiday Island by Layne-Western Corporation as part of the district's radium remediation project.

Kirkpatrick said he had contacted the Little Rock ADEQ office and was told to shut down the operation.

"They had a pretty large flow going down the hillside, making its way down to Leatherwood Creek," he said.

He said he took samples of the discharge and water and has sent them to Little Rock for evaluation.

Kirkpatrick said there was contact between division chief Martin Maner and MCA Engineering President Mike Mathis, who is overseeing the job for Holiday Island.

"There was approval to commence drilling and discharge the next morning after some measures were put in place."

The measures include erecting hay bales and silk fencing to help absorb some of the sediment and foaming agent used in drilling.

A 5-gallon bucket of foaming agent was used every two and one-half hours to help bring up shavings from the bore hole.

"It's a standard foaming agent used for drilling potable water wells to help get the cuttings out of the hole," Mathis said last week. "There are absolutely no environmental problems with this substance. It dissipates once it's out."

Kirkpatrick confirmed this. The agent, he said, is called JCHEM MF-460.

"I have the sheet on it. It's approved for use in drinking water wells. I don't see any sort of major hazards that might be associated."

Mathis said the orange color in the creek was caused by silt.

"It's sediment that got a little out of control because of the size of the hole we were drilling and the amount of water we hit," he said. "It's no worse than some of the huge rains we get and all the muddy water running down into the creek. If you see Osage Creek when it's running off into the Kings, where they come together the water's pretty dirty."

He said ADEQ okay'ed resuming drilling Wednesday morning.

"I think ADEQ recognized that we weren't causing a major problem. The shut down period was when the contractor picked up some more hay bales and fencing to get control of how much sediment was going down."

He said the drilling was finished Thursday.

Kirkpatrick said there was a concern over water turbidity and the suspended solids being discharged from the ground-up rock and soil particles blown out of the well bore and air compressor.

His report and samples have been sent to the regulatory enforcement arm of ADEQ. He was not sure Friday whether Layne-Western will be cited. Any problems with regulatory violations will be on them as part of their contract, said Holiday Island District Manager Kevin Crosson.

Thursday and Friday crews were seen cleaning up sediment and erecting more hay bales and fencing nearer the drilling site.

This week a pump will be installed and water will be discharged from the well until it runs clear. A pump test for flow rate will then be conducted. The project is scheduled to be completed by May 5.

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