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Tribe gets tough on oil waste

NEW TOWN (AP) -- The Three Affiliated Tribes is getting tough on oil companies that improperly dispose of waste on the Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota.

The tribe has implemented fines that start at $5,000 for negligent violations and $10,000 for willful violations and progress to $500,000 and $1 million, respectively. Companies that refuse to pay or have repeated violations could lose their license to do business on the


Improper dumping is happening "on a regular basis," Tribal Attorney John Fredericks said. Tribal spokeswoman Glenda Embry said the tribe had nothing in place to deter it before the fines.

The tribe's Environmental Division is developing rules to better manage waste disposal on the reservation. In the meantime, "the Business Council passed the (waste disposal) resolution to fill the void and ensure protection of reservation lands and resources," Embry said.

The resolution also calls for oil companies to remediate land or pay for cleanup of affected lands.

Oil and gas production is booming in western North Dakota because of the rich Bakken Formation. There are nearly 3,000 oil and gas leases on the reservation totaling more than half a million acres, Bureau of Indian Affairs data show.