BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's oil industry is backing new rules intended to crack down on the illegal dumping of radioactive oil filter socks, the tubular nets that strain liquids during the oil production process.
"Our members have committed to protecting our resources," said Kari Cutting, vice president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, which represents more than 500 companies working in the state's oil patch. "The industry wants to see an end to illegal dumping, too."
Beginning June 1, drillers will be required to dispose of filter socks in covered, leak-proof containers on site, according to the state Department of Mineral Resources. The containers must then be collected by a licensed waste hauler and disposed of at an authorized facility out of state.
Filter socks can become contaminated with naturally occurring radiation and are banned for disposal in North Dakota. Oil companies are supposed to haul them to approved waste facilities in other states, such as Montana, Colorado and Idaho, which allow a higher level of radioactivity in their landfills.
North Dakota has faced increased problems with illegal oil waste dumping in recent years as it has risen to become the nation's No. 2 oil producer, behind Texas. Last month, hundreds of illegal dumped filter socks were discovered in an abandoned building in Noonan, a tiny town in the northwest corner of the state. Officials said it was the state's biggest incident to date of illegal dumping of radioactive oil filter socks and will cost more than $12,000 to clean up.
North Dakota doesn't have a special fund aimed at cleaning up oil field waste. Instead, the state is tapping into another fund meant for plugging and reclaiming abandoned oil wells. That fund is paid for with oil company fees.
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