Driver pleads guilty to illegal saltwater dumping

BISMARCK — A North Dakota truck driver has pleaded guilty to illegally dumping saltwater at a disposal well location in Williams County, marking the first criminal conviction for violating North Dakota Industrial Commission rules.

According to a news release by the Industrial Commission, Benjamin LeBaron of Dickinson was charged with two counts of willfully violating environmental protection rules of the North Dakota Administrative Code under the Industrial Commission, after video surveillance recorded him dumping saltwater last summer on Oasis Petroleum property in Williams County.

LeBaron was employed by Power Fuels at the time of the July 28 incident.

Under a court-approved plea agreement, LeBaron pleaded guilty to a single count of the Class C felony.

Northwest District Judge Joshua Rustad suspended LeBaron’s one-year jail sentence on the condition he pay a $500 fine, complete 50 hours of community service, reimburse the Oil and Gas Division of the Department of Mineral Resources for $450 in costs, pay $525 in court fees and have no other offenses. LeBaron will be on supervised probation for one year.

“We want to send a message to those who violate North Dakota’s laws,” said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who sits on the commission with Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “Anyone intentionally polluting our environment will face serious consequences.”

Assistant Attorney General Hope Hogan prosecuted the case.

- Reporting by TJ Jerke, Forum News Service

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