ND Health Council reapproves radioactive waste rule, asks for new study

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BISMARCK, N.D. - The development of fracking brought a historic economic boom to North Dakota. It also brought issues the state rarely dealt with before, such as radioactive waste disposal.

The North Dakota Health Council (NDHC) paved the way for some radioactive waste to be stored in state last year.

But, landowners and activists say they weren't given enough notice, so they took the council to court.

Now, the NDHC revisited the rule in a public meeting.

The NDHC gave landowners and experts 20 minutes to speak out against new rules regarding radioactive waste.

"I was so disappointed. With so many people in the room, representing so many people, I felt like our voices weren't heard or respected," said Ruth Molm, Belfield resident.

"Some of them got up at four o'clock this morning and drove in for this and they were unable to speak their opinion at this meeting, which is dissapointing," said Larry Novak of Tri Township.

The rules, which council officials say took effect in January, allow some filter socks to be disposed of in-state by raising the amount of allowable radioactivity in waste stored in the state from 5 picocuries per gram to 50.

"You look at Montana, they have 50. You look at Colorado, they're up above a thousand. California's up above a thousand. So these limits of 50, to us, seem reasonable and safe," said Wade Peterson, NDHC chairman.

Still, some are scarred about the possible health risks.

"I have people that I care about, and you're the ones who can do something about it!" said Susan Perry, Stone Meadows Subdivision Homeowners' Association.

"That's our job as the Health Council is to monitor the Health Department and make sure safeguards are in place and there is going to be monitoring," said Peterson.

The council is now requesting a new study on how these rules could affect people's health, but opponents say that's putting the cart before the horse.

Health Council officials say this rule will cut down on some illegal dumping.

Opponents, however, say they'll still move forward with their lawsuit.