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Dunn Co. dust control: Commissioners OK further research using $97K left over from grant

Dust flies as trucks drive down rural roads around Williston on April 24. Dunn County Commission is seeking an answer to better help dust remain where it's supposed to be, namely on the road.

MANNING -- The Dunn County Commission decided during its meeting Wednesday at the Dunn County Courthouse in Manning to pursue research into dust control methods.

The research will be conducted using the $97,000 in funding that is left over from a grant from the North Dakota Industrial Commission Oil and Gas Research Program.

Francis Schwindt, a former state chief of environmental health and principal investigator for the study, told the commission that he spoke to North Dakota Industrial Commission after meeting with the commissioners last month.

He said the Industrial Commission would consider further research into dust control if the Dunn County Commission chose to pursue it.

"We would have to reapply for more grant funding if you decide that the $97,000 remaining isn't going to be enough," Schwindt said.

Dunn and McKenzie counties applied in April 2011 for $220,000 each through the North Dakota Industrial Commission Oil and Gas Research Program to conduct a study on dust control methods on unpaved roads with heavy traffic from September 2011 through January.

Schwindt told the commission last month that magnesium chloride, which Dunn County uses to treat gravel roads, is the most popular way to deal with dust control.

In addition to magnesium chloride, the grant request states that other test substances selected by county personnel included flake calcium chloride enzymatic soil stabilizers and geotextiles.

The substances in the test were evaluated for effectiveness, application, costs and longevity in controlling dust levels, according to the request.

The findings could also be used in other areas of the state or locations near the oil fields the experience dust issues.

"I don't see a need for (McKenzie County) to be involved further," Dunn County Commissioner Daryl Dukart said. "We can do research over the period of another year and see what the results are."

Dukart also asked if Schwindt had conducted research on dust control methods using drill cuttings -- the material removed from a borehole while drilling petroleum wells.

"The issue is that that stuff is really wet," Schwindt said about the drill cuttings. "How would you haul it? The consistency is too wet."

Although the commission agreed to not include drill cutting research in their latest study, Commissioner Donna Scott suggested that if the commission decided to study drill cuttings as a possible aggregate for dust control at some point, they could see whether it would be possible for the oil companies to assist in drying them.