More work urged on waste dumping – Bismarck Tribune

“State officials appear to be too timid to make sure there are consequences to companies for illegally dumping this hazardous waste,” Linda Weiss, Dakota Resource Council chairwoman from Belfield, said.

More work urged on waste dumping

Environmental groups concerned about the dumping of oilfield waste in the western part of the state say steps taken by regulators in recent months are a start but work to rein in dumping should be expedited.

Members of the North Dakota Energy Industry Waste Coalition and Dakota Resource Council said this week in a release that state regulators need to do more to oversee the tracking and disposal of filter socks in the oil patch.

“State officials appear to be too timid to make sure there are consequences to companies for illegally dumping this hazardous waste,” Linda Weiss, Dakota Resource Council chairwoman from Belfield, said.

Filter socks are used to filter toxic saltwater and water used for hydraulic fracturing at well sites. Over time they can accumulate radioactive particles.

North Dakota law states that material and equipment containing less than 5 picocuries of total radium per gram of material can be released or used without restriction but anything more must be disposed of.

The North Dakota Energy Industry Waste Coalition was formed last year in response to reports of filter socks being illegally dumped in areas around the western part of the state.

Beginning in June the state Department of Mineral Resources’ Oil and Gas Division began requiring leak-proof containers at oil, gas and wastewater disposal well sites for the disposal of filter socks. State officials have said this has led to a reduction in reported incidents of dumping filter socks.

“Before the Bakken oil boom started, the oil industry and state officials knew they would need to dispose the radioactive waste,” Darrell Dorgan, North Dakota Energy Industry Waste Coalition chairman, said. “But, companies didn’t put that in their business plans and state leaders didn’t think about addressing it in a responsible way. Now they come to us and ask us to give up on the health and safety of where we live.”

Reach Nick Smith at 250-8255 or 223-8482 or at nick.smith@bismarcktribune.com.

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