Cleanup crew says filter sock dumpsite worse than initial report

NOONAN, N.D. – A cleanup crew has removed filter socks that were illegally dumped in an abandoned gas station in a remote corner of northwest North Dakota, and discovered that there was about twice as much waste as initially estimated.

Secure Energy Services filled two large rolloff Dumpsters with the waste that contains naturally occurring radioactive material to be disposed of in a special waste landfill in Idaho, said Scott Radig, director of the Division of Waste Management for the North Dakota Department of Health.

About 40 cubic yards of waste were removed, about twice the amount initially estimated, Radig said. Filter socks can build up low levels of naturally occurring radioactivity when used for filtering fluids produced during oil and gas exploration.

A survey meter showed that one area of the building had slightly elevated radioactivity levels about two times the background level, Radig said. Soil samples were collected and submitted to a lab for testing.

Depending on the results of the lab tests, further cleanup may be needed, Radig said.

“Individuals in the area are not in danger,” Radig said. “The only increased level of risk, and it would be a small increase, is if any of that soil was ingested.”

Because a responsible party could not be located, the cleanup is being funded through an Oil and Gas Division fund for abandoned oil and gas wells and site restoration. The money comes from oil and gas taxes, fines and fees.

The initial estimate for cleanup was $12,595. However, that cost will likely increase because of additional transportation and disposal costs required for the increased amount of waste, Radig said.

Also this week, the health department received a report of filter socks discovered north of Crosby. A man who purchased a property from Divide County after the previous owner failed to pay taxes on it discovered the waste after snow melted, Radig said.

Radig estimates the waste would fill six to eight garbage cans and is much smaller than the amount discovered in Noonan or the recent McKenzie County case that involved filter socks stockpiled on trailers.

The health department is investigating and working with the county on cleanup options, Radig said.

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