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Letter: We need to know more about proposed oilfield waste disposal

There is a new method of handling radioactive oilfield waste coming to North Dakota. White Wing Limited has filed for a permit to sort oilfield waste via a mobile facility. The company is proposing to take the sludge from the bottom of oil storage tanks and separate the liquid from solid material. The radioactive solids would then be transported to a designated site for disposal and the salt water pumped down disposal wells. All this separating would be done on the back of a truck traveling from well site to well site.

After reading the proposal I still do not know how this separation of liquid and solid will be done. The written proposal says almost nothing about the methods to be used, nothing about the separation process, nothing about the trucks, nothing about the volume of liquids involved, and nothing about the weight of solids to be transported.

These trucks will be traveling our highways and back roads of Dunn, McKenzie, Williams and Mountrail counties. We do not know what will be on these trucks or if they will be 'decontaminated' before leaving sites. I looked up White Wing Limited and found that it is referred to as a Minnesota-based trucking company. I found nothing. It is apparently a shell company hiding the real owners. We need to know who owns this company. We need to know the company's record of safety compliance and what their experience is in handling toxic and radioactive materials.

Written comments were accepted by the Department of Health until May 30th, but that is not enough. There needs to be public hearings in the counties where the trucks will operate. We need to know a lot more about this plan before it is allowed. So far it has been kept almost secret. That cannot be allowed with something this potentially dangerous. As chair of Dakota Resource Council Oil and Gas Task Force, I ask the Department of Health to convene public hearings in the four counties mentioned in the proposal before any permits are issued. The public needs to know what this is about.

Weiss is the chairwoman of the Dakota Resource Council on Oil and Gas Task Force.