12 August 2015, News Wires – A North Dakota council has unanimously approved new rules that would allow operators to dump oilfield waste that emits greater amounts of radiation, according to reports.
The current rules allow up to five picocuries of radiation per gram. The new rules, passed on Monday by the State Health Council, which could go into effect by January, allow up to 50 picocuries.
According to the AP, one official said the five-picocurie limit is low enough to be registered by a granite countertop. Meanwhile, Texas and Washington set their limits at 10,000 picocuries.
Under the new rules, landfills would be able to accept radioactive oilfield waste such as filter socks, which must be shipped out-of-state for disposal. The shale boom in North Dakota, combined with one of the lowest radiation limits in the country, has led to a growing trend of illegal dumping within the state.
Last year, officials discovered what was believed to be the largest case of illegal dumping in the state’s history near the town of Noonan. There, regulators found more than 200 55-gallon trash bags filled with oil filter socks in an abandoned auto repair shop.
Earlier this year, about 100 new and used filter socks were found in garbage bags inside a facility in the town of Williston. Green Diamond Environmental Trucking Services, which owns the facility, claimed the filter socks were dropped at the site by another company.
Opponents of the new rules caution that they could make North Dakota a dumping ground for other states, but an official told the AP that an influx of waste from outside the state was unlikely because of transportation costs.