"North Dakota Wrestles With Radioactive Oilfield Waste"

"Regulators look at raising the limit for radiation amid a rash of illegal dumping."

"Last winter, when Rick Schreiber saw the photos of two abandoned flatbed trailers heaped with thousands of pounds of low-level radioactive garbage, some spilling onto the ground, he’d had enough. A landfill director in western North Dakota’s Bakken oil field, near where the waste was left, Schreiber turns illegal industrial rubbish like that away from the McKenzie County municipal landfill weekly.

Schreiber and other landfill operators in North Dakota have been catching unscrupulous or uninformed oil producers and their subcontractors trying to unload hazardous radioactive waste into the municipal dump for years. Sick of issuing fines to haulers who claim they don’t know the rules, this past winter he fired off emails to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, his county commissioners, the governor’s office and the state attorney general. “Somebody has to take a stand,” says Schreiber. “I’m not here to make friends with the oil companies, I’m here to do my job and protect the people of McKenzie County the best I can and make sure my legacy here in 20 years…isn’t destruction of the environment and a Superfund project.” Schreiber’s comments reflect growing public concern in the state over safe disposal of oilfield waste, and now North Dakota is responding, with a batch of new rules, scientific studies and risk assessments aimed at low-level radioactive oilfield waste."

Sarah Jane Keller reports for High Country News July 14, 2014.

Thursday, July 17, 2014