BISMARCK, N.D. — An oil field waste landfill that withdrew its application to handle radioactive waste was found earlier this year to have tons of illegal radioactive material at its site near Alexander.
The Bismarck Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/2c3gaGZ ) that the state Health Department ordered IHD Solids Management to remove nearly 950 tons of radioactive waste after inspections in May and June.
“IHD seems to have a problem. We caught them in two inspections with different materials. They’re supposed to know what they’re getting, and I’m surprised about this,” Waste Management Division Assistant Director Steve Tillotson said. “Somebody slipped it to ’em. I don’t think they took this knowingly.”
Two other oil field waste companies also were found to have illegal materials on site, though in much smaller quantities.
All three operators have changed practices to prevent similar occurrences.
IHD did not return phone calls for this story, but told the department it is now running a handheld Geiger counter over all loads entering the facility. Secure Energy changed its protocol so the whole transport truck is scanned, and Gibson told the department it will scan the first load of each project and a set sequence thereafter.
The situation came to light when the Health Department tested all 12 oil field waste landfills. The department did the survey to see how oil waste landfills are complying under the permits they have now, according to Tillotson.
Tilotson said IHD will not be fined for violating its permit conditions.
“I talked to the higher-ups and it was decided not to, if it takes care of the problem and it doesn’t occur again. Hauling 950 tons of material out of state is something they’re not going to want to do again,” he said.
Gary Ebel, of Buckhorn Energy, said he applauds the department for cracking down on landfill operators, but said the findings do raise questions.
“How much has been buried and how long has this been going on? They’re required to know the regulations,” said Ebel, who suggested violators should have to test “clean” for a couple of years before North Dakota issues them a permit to handle radioactive waste under the new rules.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com