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Excerpts from recent North Dakota editorials

State responsible for waste, safety

The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, Aug. 19, 2015

The state took another step last week to take responsibility for its radioactive waste — or least part of it. It’s commendable the state wants to handle the waste and not ship it to other states, but with the decision comes oversight to protect the public.

The State Health Council of health and consumer appointees approved new rules to allow radioactive waste in special North Dakota landfills. The oil and gas waste going to the landfills can have a level of 50 picocuries of radiation. The rules still need approval by the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee and the final OK by the attorney general.

Thirteen special waste operators in the oil patch could qualify to take the waste, but they will have to apply for an amended permit after the rules are in place early next year.

This has been a hotly debated issue in the state, and last week’s council meeting prompted protests. Opponents argued that not enough notice of the meeting had been given. The dumping of radioactive filter socks in different locations in the oil patch has heightened concerns. While state officials say the sites didn’t reach dangerous levels of radioactivity, seeing crews in protective gear cleaning up the sites didn’t ease some concerns.

The move toward radioactive waste disposal didn’t happen overnight, it started three years ago. Last year the Argonne National Laboratory completed its tests of North Dakota oil field materials and recommended 50 pci as a safe level of waste in the state. Now, there are several pages of rules that provide safety training for workers and require landfills to cover the radioactive waste daily with 1 foot of compacted soil and build a final cover 10 feet thick.

The rules create a record of where the waste was generated, by whom and where every load is buried. Operators must use an approved radioactive testing protocol, and some specialized companies may set up at oil field locations or landfills to test and seal the waste.

There’s estimated to be 75 tons of radioactive waste daily in filter socks, tank sludge, pipe scale and other oil industry materials, according to State Health Department environmental chief David Glatt.

Glatt acknowledges that it will continue to be an emotional issue in the state and the rules committee and attorney general will hear opposition. Supporters of the change believe the state shouldn’t be hauling all its waste to Montana, Idaho and other states. That we created the waste and we should deal with it. Anything exceeding 50 pci it will have to go elsewhere.

David Glatt said he expects some reluctance over what he terms an “emotional issue.” However, science will lead the way, not public opinion, he said.

“We have to deal with science and the law. We have a responsibility to handle the waste and, if it’s protective of public health, then it will happen,” Glatt said.

The Tribune agrees the state has responsibility for its waste and decisions need to involve good science and the law. However, sometimes public opinion can trump science and prompt changes in the law. It doesn’t appear to be the case here with the opposition failing to draw a large public outcry.

As the state proceeds it must make sure all safety requirements are in place and followed. This must be as fail-proof of a procedure as possible. As the state takes responsibility of the radioactive waste it continues to have the responsibility for the safety of the public.

Keeping (some) promises

Minot Daily News, Minot, Aug. 19, 2015

Give President Barack Obama credit — if you want to call it that — for one thing: He is keeping his campaign promises, even when that requires lying to the American people.

He vowed to shut down coal-fired power plants and is carrying through with that. One means of dampening criticism was to let reports of the severity of new emissions limits stand for years — then release far more draconian rules on more than a dozen states.

And, of course, many people remember the “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” promise made over and over again to help foist Obamacare on the nation. Another promise to the American people broken so he could keep a campaign pledge.

Now, Obama is trying again to keep another promise, to close the U.S. prison for terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Previous attempts to do that have met with severe criticism from the public and heavy opposition in Congress.

But now, it is reported the Pentagon is looking at two U.S. sites to which Guantanamo inmates could be transferred.

Yes, the president keeps his promises. Some of them, anyway.

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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