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ND Judge Says New Toxic Rules Meeting Can Go Forward

In 2014, about 200 industrial-sized garbage bags full of oil production waste were found in an abandoned gas station in Noonan, ND. (Dakota Resource Council)
In 2014, about 200 industrial-sized garbage bags full of oil production waste were found in an abandoned gas station in Noonan, ND. (Dakota Resource Council)
August 1, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. – After North Dakota's Health Council approved new toxic waste rules during what turned out to be an illegal public meeting last year, environmental groups are urging concerned residents to weigh in at a do-over meeting next Tuesday.

Groups including the Dakota Resource Council are arguing in court that the state overstepped its bounds by not making public a meeting where controversial new radioactive waste disposal rules were set.

And local residents, including JoAnn Marsh of Dunn County, say the public should have a say in how oilfield waste could potentially be stored in more than a dozen North Dakota landfills.

"We're advocating that landowners have more of a voice concerning how industrial waste landfills are permitted,” she states. “And I understand that the waste has to be dealt with, but that's not our waste. That is the responsibility of oil companies."

Last week, a district judge denied the Health Council's request to shut the meeting down.

The new oil and gas drilling waste rules went into effect at the beginning of this year, which raised the radioactivity limit from five to 50 picocuries. So far, no permits have been issued under the new limits.

Marsh argues that a large jump in the radioactive threshold could pose safety concerns for people who live or work near the landfills where the waste will be stored.

"This is ranching and farming country,” she points out. “And I can honestly say we have nothing against the oil companies, but things have to be done responsibly. And we want to make sure going forward that the environment that we're living in is safe."

The revised meeting will take place at 9 a.m. Aug. 9 in the Pioneer Room at the state Capitol.


Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND