North Dakota oil boom keeps getting the wrong kind of attention

Despite already dealing with a slew of issues ranging from a housing shortage to an increasing crime rate, North Dakota officials now have another problem grabbing headlines: illegal dumping.

On May 11, several news outlets reported that 200 hundreds bags of radioactive material were found in an abandoned building in Noonan, a small northwest town in North Dakota. It is likely the largest case of illegal dumping in state history, twice the size of the amount found in Watford City three week earlier.

Continental Resources, one of the largest Bakken producers, immediately cut ties with RP Services LLC, the company state officials blamed for the Watford City dump.

The bags were filled with filter socks, or oil socks, which are made from absorbent material and used to filter waste water. Luckily, there’s not enough radiation emitted by the socks to be truly harmful.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the state acted swiftly and implemented new regulations starting in June that require companies to use containers to store these filter socks on site.

As for a long-term solution? North Dakota doesn’t have one. The closest place to store radioactive waste is hundreds of miles away in Montana.

Blog post continues below…

Request a free trial of: Oilgram News Oilgram News
Oilgram News Oilgram News brings fast-breaking global petroleum and gas news to your desktop every day. Our extensive global network of correspondents report on supply and demand trends, corporate news, government actions, exploration, technology, and much more.
Request a trial to Oilgram News

As if radiation isn’t enough, wastewater dumping also continues to be an issue for the state, with the latest infraction drawing a $1 million fine from the guilty party. Black Water Hills Trucking, Inc. is facing more than $1 million in dumping charges after pouring wastewater onto the side of a Williams County road.

The company “is alleged to have violated multiple environmental sections of the North Dakota Administrative Code by allowing fluid to flow directly on the ground, by improperly disposing of fluid and by failing to have a proper license to haul waste,” the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources said April 15 in a release.

While dumping wastewater is a common problem in the Bakken Shale play, it’s nearly impossible to catch perpetrators in the act. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem also came out with a statement April 15 condemning the Black Water Hills Trucking and asking citizens to “call the local law enforcement agencies, the state highway patrol, or the Department of Mineral Resources, and help us put a stop to it.”

With crude production reaching records high nearly every month, North Dakota still seems to attract plenty of unwanted attention.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Email

All blog comments are moderated before being published.


  1. Ron Wagner at April 22, 2014 11:02 am

    Wasting natural gas through flaring is terrible for the reputation of the industry and North Dakota. All the technology exists to use it, store it, and transport it. Do it!

  2. Tracy at April 19, 2014 11:48 am

    The closest place to store radioactive material is Montana.
    WHY would you say ND doesn’t have a long tern solution?
    This is the journalism that gets the bad attention and pisses the tree huggers off!!!
    First off just because RP Services LLC decided they don’t want to travel the very few miles to Montana (thats right Montana is considered very few miles away in oilfield terms) to rid of material the right way doesn’t mean the other companies in the Oil & Gas industry are following suit.
    There is going to be a couple bad apples on the tree, but that’s life, and that’s not just in this industry, that is in every facet of life, so don’t start pointing your fingers and throwing stones at the rest, that would be like having two pies, one made by a machine (NASTY) one made by your grandma (YUMMY) and because one was nasty we throw both pies back at the makers. WRONG!
    Believe it or not the Oil & Gas industry spend millions every year trying to implement better cleaner ways to do business, they are not here to kill the earth and everyone in it, they are here to provide you with the things you use DAILY, that you take for granted!
    Get your facts straight!


Your Comment