BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s oil industry is backing new rules intended to crack down on the illegal dumping of radioactive oil filter socks, the tubular nets that strain liquids during the oil production process.
“Our members have committed to protecting our resources,” said Kari Cutting, vice president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, which represents more than 500 companies working in the state’s oil patch. “The industry wants to see an end to illegal dumping, too.”
Beginning June 1, drillers will be required to dispose of filter socks in covered, leak-proof containers on site, according to the state Department of Mineral Resources. The containers must then be collected by a licensed waste hauler and disposed of at an authorized facility out of state.
Filter socks can become contaminated with naturally occurring radiation and are banned for disposal in North Dakota. Oil companies are supposed to haul them to approved waste facilities in other states, such as Montana, Colorado and Idaho, which allow a higher level of radioactivity in their landfills.
The new permit requirements will affect all wells drilled after June 1 and about 1,500 wells that have not been drilled but already have a permit.
Failure to follow the new rules may result in fines of up to $12,500 a day, said Alison Ritter, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Mineral Resources.
The size and construction of the disposal containers are not specified, under the new requirement. The state delayed the rules until June 1 to give companies time to get disposal containers on site, Ritter said.
“They don’t have to be any particular size but they must be leak-proof, covered and protected from the elements,” she said.
Cutting said she did not know what the additional measures would add to the expense of oil drilling.
“There will be some additional cost, but I’m not sure of the magnitude,” she said.
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