ND health department tightens up on radioactive waste monitoring

BISMARCK--The North Dakota Health Department is revising permits for all special oil field waste companies requiring they monitor all loads that have potential for radioactivity.

Residents of McKenzie County, N.D., attend a county commission meeting on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, to oppose the disposal of radioactive oilfield waste. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

BISMARCK-The North Dakota Health Department is revising permits for all special oil field waste companies requiring they monitor all loads that have potential for radioactivity.

The modification from suspected to potential radioactivity comes after department surveys this summer found three of 12 special oil field waste operators with illegal radioactive material at their landfill operations.

Steve Tillotson, assistant director of the solid waste program, said about half of the companies have received notice of their revised permits, with the remainder in process.

"It is a fairly long process that we go through," said Tillotson, adding the department has the authority to revise permits for cause.

All three of the companies found with illegal radioactive waste had applied to change their permits to dispose of up to 50 picocuries of radioactive waste under new rules that increase the level from 5 picocuries. So far, none has been approved.


One of those companies, IHD Disposal with a site north of Alexander, was ordered to hire a third party inspector after radioactive waste was found during inspections in May and June. At that time, the company removed about 950 tons of material then removed another 980 tons in September based on the third-party findings.

IHD has since put its radioactive waste disposal application on hold and manager Chris Kreger said the landfill is monitoring all incoming loads with a hand-held detector and will upgrade to a portal-style monitor in the next couple of weeks.

He said some loads have elevated readings, but are as likely to be soils with naturally occurring radiation that is not regulated rather than radioactivity that results from prolonged contact with filters or other oil field technology.

Kreger said the modified permit is not a problem for the company.

"There's not anything in there that's causing acid reflux. The procedural changes are nothing that we can't live with," he said.

He said IHD intends to eventually more forward with its request for a revised permit to handle the new level of radioactive waste.

"We will, eventually. Right now, we're working with the (McKenzie) county to make sure the county is comfortable and understands our processes," he said.

As a result of the departmental survey, Gibson Energy, at its WISCO landfill near Williston, removed 18 yards of illegal waste. Secure Energy, at its 13-Mile Landfill at Williston, removed 10 loads. Both of those companies have also applied to handle the new, higher level of radioactive waste allowed under the new rules.


Tillotson said the department will not take action against IHD for the violation.

What To Read Next
Benson and Turner Foods will process cattle and hogs at Waubun, Minnesota, on the White Earth Reservation with the help of a USDA grant.
The Kinderkidz daycare and preschool is tentatively set to open their third location, the second in Dickinson, this Thursday.
A recent $30,000 per acre land sale in Sioux County, Iowa, sends signals into the land market in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and even as far away as Indiana.
Working from his granary-turned-workshop near Amidon, N.D., Max Robison creates leatherwork ranging from traditional (horse tack, wallets, etc.) to fashion-forward (Converse high tops and sandals).