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State drafts rules for oilfield waste

Posted 3/11/14 (Tue)

By Stephanie Norman
Farmer Staff Writer

Regulations are being drafted by the North Dakota Department of Health to track the generation, storage, transportation and disposal of Technically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM), which will be proposed to the public in June.
According to Scott Radig, director of the North Dakota Division of Waste Management, there have been numerous incidents where oilfield waste is not being handled properly - much like the recent case in McKenzie County where hundreds of oil filter socks were discovered on two trailers, leaking oil and chemicals into the soil.
“This seems to be a growing problem in the oil-producing regions,” Radig said. “These are illegal attempts to dump waste into ditches or dumpsters.”
McKenzie County Landfill Solid Waste Director Rick Schreiber said, 985 oil filter socks were presented at the landfill in 2013. He said for each case, paperwork was filed and sent to the state for further action.
“When we receive the paperwork, we follow up with the company responsible,” Radig said. “The current state law and administrative rules require that all TENORM waste be disposed of appropriately, and violations can result in fines. However, we are finding that there is a need to enhance our ability to track this type of waste.”
As of right now, the state relies on the individual companies to dispose of contaminated and radioactive waste properly on their own, according to Radig.
While there are many companies following procedures correctly, there are a handful of companies illegally dumping harmful waste into local dumpsters, creeks, ponds, and wherever else they can hide the waste away without paying the fees to have it transported out of state or disposed of properly, Schreiber said.
“What’s the point in doing all of the mandated paperwork that is required from the state and federal levels, if there is no urgency at the state level,” Schreiber said. “We can continue to bury our heads in the sand and hope that this problem goes away, but it’s not.”
Schreiber was glad to hear the state is making the motion to draft regulations for radioactive waste material.
“The solid waste department is working with the influx of reports with the same amount of staff as before,” Radig said. “We are doing the best we can.”
Radig said the TENORM regulations will be released to the public in June for comment and correction.