The environmental impact of using petroleum-contaminated sand (PCS) as a substitute in asphalt paving mixtures was examined. An appreciable component of PCS is oily sludge, which is found as the dregs in oil storage tanks and is also produced as a result of oil spills on clean sand. The current method for the disposal of oily sludge is land farming. However, this method has not been successful as an oil content of < 1% w/w is required, and difficulty was encountered in reaching this target. The reuse of the sludge in asphalt paving mixtures was therefore considered as an alternative. Standard tests and environmental studies were conducted to establish the integrity of the materials containing the recycled sludge. These included physical and chemical characterization of the sludge itself, and an assessment of the mechanical properties of materials containing 0%, 5%, 22% and 50% oily sludge. The blended mixtures were subjected to special tests, such as Marshall testing and the determination of stability and flow properties. The experimental results indicated that mixtures containing up to 22% oily sludge could meet the necessary criteria for a specific asphalt concrete wearing course or bituminous base course. To maximize the assay from the recycled material, the environmental assessment was restricted to the 50% oily sludge mixture. Leachates associated with this particular mixture were assayed for total organic residue and certain hazardous metal contaminants. The results revealed that the organics were negligible, and the concentrations of the metals were not significant. Thus, no adverse environmental impact should be anticipated from the use of the recycled product. Our research showed that the disposal of oily sludge in asphalt paving mixtures could possibly yield considerable savings per tonne of asphalt concrete, and concurrently minimize any direct impact on the environment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law