ND County Says No To Energy Company Oil Well Waste - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

ND County Says No To Energy Company Oil Well Waste

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A small community puts its foot down and tells an out-of-state energy company "no."  

"Not in my backyard" takes on even more meaning when waste generated from someone else's yard is destined for yours.  That's what vocal opponents in a community of roughly 9,000 say.  

McLean County sits on the fringes of oil country -- and they already have an existing landfill.  "It was built in the 1990s to dispose of fly ash from the Cold Creek Station.  It is no longer needed for that purpose, because we began selling fly ash as a building component," says Greg Ridderbusch, Vice President Business Development, Great River Energy.

So the landfill was Great River Energy's hoped-for home for oil field waste.  The waste requires special handling, since it would contain naturally occurring radiation in the soil and sediment coming to the landfill that accumulates in the oil drilling process.

Protests were many, including concerns about dust, truck routes and water wells.
Some say there are just too many unknowns regarding whether permitted waste radiation levels -- relatively low now -- might increase later.  "You're buying this car without knowing anything about it," says Darrell Dorgan.  "Accidents do happen.  It's the same with that plant, that dump site.  Accidents do happen," says Mic Johnson.

However, the company says they've been good neighbors for decades.  The site would be upgraded and monitored -- and most waste would actually come from wells in or near the County.  "We will not allow any regulated radioactive or toxic waste in that facility.  Period.  We live here too," assures Ridderbusch.

It wasn't good enough.  The McLean County Commission said no.

What happens now?  "The alternative is unmonitored disposal pits dug at each disposal site," says Ridderbusch.

State's Attorney Ladd Erickson says the company can try again, but they'll have to start the entire process over.  The company says it's too soon to tell.

Today's vote was two to one to deny Great River Energy's permit to upgrade its existing landfill.  Commissioner Suydam wanted to put the issue to a public vote.  However, since McLean County does not operate under "Home Rule," a public vote would have merely operated like a straw poll, and not bind the Commission.

 

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