Landfill near Williston applying for permit to dispose of radioactive materials

A landfill near Williston is applying for permits to dispose of radioactive materials, or TENORM. If approved, this would be the first of its kind in North Dakota. A public hearing was held last night, where many gathered to let their voices be heard.

Concerned citizens and neighbors of the landfill voiced their concerns to the North Dakota Department of Health. At the 13 mile corner, Secure Energy services wants to dispose of TENORM that is a radioactive result of oil and gas extraction.

Dorothy Kuester Lives 3 miles from the landfill and said, “We have saltwater spills. We have oil spills we deal with. We have pipeline breaks. As much as you may want to tell me that you have safeguards in place, I am going to say that I know there’s something called human error, and I’m very concerned about that.”

The radioactive material will be underground, but will last thousands of years, so people are concerned about the future of the area, as well as the short-term effects on nearby farm and ranch commodities that are consumed by many.

Beau Anderson, a Farmer and Rancher said, “So if our crops and if our livestock are exposed to something on a daily basis, is it safe, and how do we know that it’s safe?”

The 13-mile corner is one of many disposal sites near Williston.

Anderson added, “It’s only right to assume that if one is going to apply for radioactive material that’s higher than it’s been in the past that they’re all going to apply for it.”

Secure Energy Services said the radiation would affect the workers the most, but would amount to less than 1% of an average person’s yearly exposure.

“The reality is that there is naturally occurring radiation all around us. If I turned on a detection meter right now, we would see that there is radiation in this building,” said Kurt Rhea, Secure Energy Services Corporate Radiation Safety Officer.

The site would be approved for 50 pCi/gram of radiation, and 25,000 tons of affected material a year. These thresholds are less than the surrounding states where North Dakota’s radioactive materials are currently being shipped every day.

Rhea said, “It’s important that we get some of the trucks off of the road, not traveling hundreds of miles out of state to simply dispose of what is really nothing more than dirty dirt.”

Rhea said that most of the material would still be shipped out-of-state, and only the least radioactive materials would be kept near Williston.

There is still a long road ahead for Select Energy Services to get approval. Written comments can be mailed or emailed to the Department of Health by September 9th. After the department responds to factual comments, they will modify, approve, or deny the permits. Then Select Energy Services still needs Planning and Zoning Department, and County Commissioner approval.