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.
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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.