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Proposed oil field waste landfill draws criticism

WASHBURN, N.D. (AP) -- A proposed oil field waste landfill northwest of Underwood is being criticized by some area residents who fear radioactive contamination and increased highway traffic.

Great River Energy wants permission from McLean County and the state of North Dakota to convert an existing coal waste landfill into one that can handle oil field waste. The landfill is almost empty after two decades of existence because the company sells most of its waste from the Coal Creek Station coal-fired power plant as a concrete additive.

"We just need to say no, go someplace else. There's other places that deal with it. Not our county," resident Larry Clark said during a public hearing Monday conducted by county zoning officials.

"Most of the oil activity is in the west. I think they need to take care of that stuff out there instead of trucking it way out here," he said. Underwood is in central North Dakota.

The landfill would not accept any waste with potentially harmful levels of radiation, Great River Energy spokeswoman Diane Stockdill said.

"Our landfill is designed to be protective of human health and the environment," she said.

The County Commission and state Health Department need to approve the plan. The county's decision could come at a July 16 meeting.