This past Sunday Shane Dolezal and his wife Sheralee were checking their fields and cattle in the Dunn Center area when they noticed a semi tanker combination backed up on the edge of their field.
“As I asked him to get out, and I asked him what are you doing . . . he said ‘nothing’. I said no . . you’re dumping saltwater,” said Shane Dolezal, Dunn County rancher,
It was approximated 100 barrels, and the driver was George Baker Jr., a truck driver for SBT.
He was immediately arrested by the Dunn County Sheriffs Department, and he is currently charged with a Class C Felony for Violation of the Rules and Regulations of the North Dakota Industrial Commission.
“Yes. I agree with jail time, but he should also be responsible for the cost of the cleanup, as well as, any lost hay this farmer is going to lose, ” said Bobby Porterfield, General Manager for SBT.
Porterfield also said he believes the driver should lose his CDL license.
In the court affidavit, Baker Jr. told a sheriff’s deputy that his reason for doing this was “sick of waiting for trucks to unload at the saltwater disposal” site South of Halliday and he “had been getting paid per load . . . sitting was cutting into getting money”.
“We get paid for waiting in line. . . there is no excuse, ” said Porterfield.
Shane Dolezal said he doesn’t have the words to express how frustrated he is by the entire incident.
The 100 hundred barrels of salt water that were spilled onto the Dolezal’s land nnly killed their grass, but buried itself deep within their soil, as much as 14 feet in some areas according to an official with Poe Boy, who are currently doing environmental excavation on the area.
“It probably won’t be back in production for another year. . . depends on weather, rain,” said Shane Dolezal.
The spill area is about 2 acres, and Shane Dolezal said the area is used for hay.
SBT and Poe Boy are working together on restoring the Dolezal’s land to the way it was before the incident by removing the contaminated soil from the site and replacing it with new soil from the Dolezal’s land.
Porterfield estimates that the incident by the driver will cost SBT more than $500,000.
The North Dakota Department of Health is also monitoring the area with soil testing.
Porterfield hopes they can get the area restored within two or three weeks.
The Industrial Commission and NDDoH said the incident remains under investigation, but the maximum penalty is $12,500 dollars a day for each incident.
Baker Jr. is currently out on $1,500 cash bond, and he is expected back in court in mid-July.
Porterfield said this an “isolated incident” with Baker Jr.