Trucking company loses appeal of fine over saltwater dump

BISMARCK, N.D. – A trucking company fined nearly a million dollars by the North Dakota Industrial Commission for illegally dumping saltwater on a Williams County road has lost an appeal with the state Supreme Court.

The commission fined Black Hills Trucking, Inc., $950,000 in civil penalties after a field technician witnessed a trucker release saltwater on a road near a disposal well in February of 2014.

A soil test revealed an elevated level of chloride and electrical conductivity. The commission claimed that Black Hills did not do enough to report the spill or remediate it.

Black Hills had argued that it did not violate any duty to contain or clean up the spill since it was a hauler of the fluid and not an operator of the well, and said it had already paid a $200,000 fine, but the court ruled that the Industrial Commission acted within its legal boundaries in enforcing the law.