The process of drilling and producing oil involves salt, natural gas, heavy metals, and chemicals. That’s something a group known as the Salted Lands Council is trying to make the public more aware of.
According to Fintan Dooley, Coordinator of Salted Lands Council, the mismanagement of fluids from oil drilling and mining has destroyed thousands of acres of land in North Dakota.
To give you an idea, oilfield produced water which is very salty and can sometimes be twice as salty as the Dead Sea, which is 35 percent salt by mass.
In the event of a spill, this salt mixture can damage farmland, and it can be even more difficult to clean up than oil spills. Since the 1950s, many oil companies that moved to North Dakota, have gone bankrupt, and have left the land polluted. In some cases, Dooley says, the result is land that simply can’t support the AG industry anymore.
Dooley says, “There are townships in Bottineau county, which I call ground zero, and in Renville county where virtually nothing grows anymore. There are whole townships that are so damaged that nothing grows. What we have is plumes of salt that have spread.”
Their overall mission is to get all these areas clean and educate landowners of the legal remedies to do that.
The Salted Land Council says they hope this conference will link these officials and students to hopefully get future generations to learn from previous mistakes.
“The attitude I would like for these young people to have is ‘sir Governor or sir North Dakota Manager of Public Lands, how did you get in this position?’ What I want to do is these older people to inspire these kids and show them that North Dakota is a wonderful place for these kids to live and you have an opportunity here,” says Dooley.
Dooley hopes that students might be offered internship opportunities, maybe entice them to stay in the state, but most importantly just make them more knowledgable.
The Salted Lands Council has gotten stories from landowners all across North Dakota on how they have been impacted by the oil industry.
They will also have another conference at Bismarck State College today. from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at the BPS Career Academy.