Mandan News

MHS senior wins award in environmental management

Alexander Spilman

Alexander Spilman

The world’s largest high school science research competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Ariz., a program of Society for Science & the Public, announced its top winners.

Among those named were Mandan High School student Alexander Spilman, 18, with his project entitled “Study of TENORM Deposits in Oil Field Equipment.” His project was awarded a fourth place Grand Award in the Environmental Management category for identifying a method to significantly reduce disposal costs of low level radioactive oil field wastes.

Spilman said his research moves toward assuring proper management of these wastes. Julie Fleck, MHS science advisor, who also attended the fair, said, “Alex’s project did very well at ISEF due to the fact that it showed that there are alternatives to liquid waste in the landfills, which encourages solutions to some of N.D. oil field problems.”

Of the 30 states that have established a regulated threshold for technically-enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material wastes, North Dakota is significantly lowest at 5 picocuries per gram versus a more typical level of 50 picocuries per gram. Spilman investigated acids and solvents suitable to dissolve soil deposits which form on oil-field equipment. The liquid wastes can be disposed of in deep well injection disposal wells rather than transported to permitted landfills in Utah, Colorado or Idaho. He received $500 cash with the award.

Spilman will be attending South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City this fall majoring in chemical engineering. He will be interning this summer at Keitu Engineers & Consultants, Inc. in Mandan.

This year 1,623 young scientists were chosen to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. These finalists were selected from 433 affiliate fairs in 73 countries, regions and territories.