PMA 5 for environmental protection

2023-02-02 | Corporate

Whether as fuel or as a heating agent, in smartphones or cosmetics, crude oil is the basic material for many things. But the extraction of this precious resource destroys large areas of unspoiled nature. In Canada, an Anton Paar instrument is being used to ensure that the native flora and fauna can flourish again after extraction projects.

Thousands of years ago, people in China, Egypt, and Rome were already using crude oil, also known as petroleum. They made medicines from it and burned it in petroleum lamps. Therefore, they used crude oil that came out of the ground by itself. But the crude oil that emerges by itself without external influences is nowadays by far not enough to cover the world’s demand. The huge amounts of oil we consume have to be extracted from the earth.

Oil drilling destroys Alberta's nature
Canada, especially the province of Alberta, is home to the world’s third-largest crude oil reserves after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Most of the oil is bound to sand, so it has to be extracted in an energy-intensive process that involves major disruptions to nature. Around 80 % of crude oil is extracted by oil wells. In the process, it often happens that areas are contaminated by leaking crude oil and other impurities during extraction.

Large areas of Alberta have already been destroyed by oil production. The Canadian government wants to counteract this – in Alberta, the Alberta Energy Regulatory (“AER”) corporation is responsible for that. It sets the framework conditions for oil production and subsequent recultivation. Once a well or pit is depleted, the equipment must be dismantled and removed from the area. Metallic waste must be recycled. Pits at mine sites are backfilled with sand, excavation material, and the original surface layer to restore the land. Infrastructure such as roads and power lines that were necessary for exploitation must also be removed.

Control of the soil by using PMA 5
The industrially used area must then be restored to a state of natural productivity. This means that contaminated areas must be cleaned up so that a sustainable ecosystem can be re-established. During the cleanup, soil samples are taken from various depths and analyzed. Only when the soil no longer shows hydrocarbon contamination, is the cleanup complete. The land is then cultivated with native plant species.

Government requirements led to a sudden increase in soil testing, where Anton Paar’s PMA 5 flashpoint tester is used due to its robustness and ease of operation. A soil sample is considered “clean” when no flame ignites at over 70 °C. For a fast, correct result, a modified ASTM D93 program is used. If a company does not follow the requirements of the authorities, they will be punished accordingly. After repeated orders for further remediation, there may also be high administrative fines and even criminal prosecution of those responsible.