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Court upholds $950,000 fine for saltwater dumping

Posted 12/13/17 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The North Dakota Supreme Court on Dec. 7, ruled in favor of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, Oil and Gas Division (OGD) regarding a case seeking a civil penalty plus costs and expenses from Black Hills Trucking (BHT) for illegally dumping saltwater in 2014.  
The Commission sought $950,000 in penalties from BHT for illegally releasing saltwater from a truck on three different occasions on a Williams County road in Feb. 2014. One occasion was witnessed by an OGD field technician.
“We are pleased with the Supreme Court’s opinion to uphold the District Court decision and rule in favor of the Commission penalty,” says Division Director Lynn Helms. “The outcome of this case was vital in maintaining the jurisdiction of the Commission on complaint cases.”
BHT argued the Commission had no jurisdiction to issue a fine because the incident took place on a road, not a well pad. They argued off-site jurisdiction fell to the North Dakota Department of Health, who had already assessed a penalty. The Supreme Court agreed with the Commission argument of broad statutory authority over oilfield waste and disposal from the point it was generated to the point it is disposed.

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