The North Dakota Department of Natural Resources is in the process of investigating approximately 100 filter socks that were improperly disposed of in Williston, reports the Forum News Service (FNS).
Clean-up of the site is expected to begin today. The scene was discovered by a citizen who alerted state authorities earlier this week. Used filter socks are a waste product of oil and gas extraction and contain low levels of naturally occurring radioactive waste. Under current regulations, used filter socks need to be transported out of state for proper disposal.
The waste was found on trailers parked next to a shop in northern Williston, according to FNS. The company that rents the location of where the socks were found, Green Diamond Environmental Services, has agreed to pay for the cost of cleanup and disposal which will amount to over $12,500. DNR spokeswoman Alison Ritter stated that the responsible party for the waste has yet to be determined. She also said it is too early to say if a fine will be issued.
Owner of Green Diamond, Lee Farris, told FNS that he was unaware of the disposed of filter socks until being contacted by state officials. He speculated that roughly 40 of the filter socks were used, and the waste could have been there for over a year. He said, “I didn’t realize there were any dirty filters that needed to be disposed of or I would have done it a long time ago. Nobody was trying to hide anything here.”
The North Dakota Department of Health is also conducting an investigation. The agency reports that the level of radioactivity is slightly higher than the site’s background radiation, but the public is not at risk. Last June the state issued an order requiring companies to store used filter socks in covered and leak-proof containers in an attempt to curb illegal dumping such as the incident in Noonan, North Dakota. Early last year over 200 industrial-sized garbage bags filled with used filter socks were found in the dumpster of an abandoned gas station. This is the first time that improper disposal of used filter socks since the rules went into effect.