Inadvertent Returns

Published: March 30, 2017 | Last updated: July 5, 2023

What Does Inadvertent Returns Mean?

An inadvertent return is the unintended transfer of drilling mud to the surface during boring machine operations by way of fractures or fissures that occur naturally, rather than as a result of boring operations.

Inadvertent returns as a result of pipeline boring represent potential environmental impacts. The return of boring or drilling mud to the surface through natural channels – fractures or fissures in the ground not directly related to the boring process – can result in penalties to the organization conducting the horizontal driling/boring operations.


Trenchlesspedia Explains Inadvertent Returns

Contingency planning is critical in avoiding penalties related to inadvertent returns:

  • Identify and evaluate all likely geological indicators of potential failure locations.
  • Choose drilling fluid constituents carefully.
  • Continually monitor the area around boring/horizontal drilling operations for inadvertent returns
  • Ensure pollution control personnel are on-site or immediately available to contain any inadvertent returns.
  • Conduct an in-house pollution control program so that employees can act as environmental first responders while awaiting a professional team’s arrival.
  • Notify the appropriate state environmental protection office – or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if your state has no environmental protection office – immediately upon discovering inadvertent returns.

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