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Waste handler shut down: Radioactive oilfield waste company shut down for violations

BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health has ordered a company that handles radioactive oilfield waste to shut down its facility near Killdeer after state inspectors found several violations there earlier this month.

The emergency order issued Thursday alleges that Dyad Environmental LLC failed to properly store and track the disposal of the waste, which was primarily filter socks, which collect naturally occurring radioactive material from oilfield byproducts, said Dave Glatt, the department’s environmental health chief.

Glatt said inspectors also weren’t able to find a qualified radiation safety officer on site or verify that employees were trained to handle the material as required by Dyad’s radioactive material license issued by the Health Department in February.

“The immediate concern then is the safety of the workers, and so that was a big part of the order,” he said in a phone interview.

Dyad’s facility accepts filter socks from oilfield companies and encases them in large blocks made of a ceramic-like material for shipment to out-of-state disposal sites — primarily in Colorado, Idaho and Montana — if the level of radiation exceeds 5 picocuries per gram, the maximum allowed for disposal in North Dakota, Glatt said.

The Health Department also has been investigating piles of improperly disposed filter socks that have been discovered in several areas of the western North Dakota in recent weeks.

At Dyad, the Health Department conducted two inspections in early April, though Glatt couldn’t recall the exact dates.

Asked why the facility wasn’t shut down immediately, he said, “We had to look at all the findings that we received from the inspection, compare them to the license requirements and then take a look at the severity of them individually and then also all together before we came to that conclusion.”

Inspectors found some of the waste blocks being stored outside the facility’s fenced-in area, Glatt said. The company has since moved them back inside, he said.

Blocks also were being stored on the bare ground instead of impermeable surfaces as required by the license, Glatt said.

“The leaching potential was minimal, but, you know, any precipitation, with time, that could be an issue,” he said.

The company also failed to post proper warning signs at the facility’s entrance, and its manifest showing where the waste came from and where it was finally disposed of was incomplete, Glatt said.

Asked if any waste was unaccounted for, he said, “Not that we’re aware of. That’s part of our investigation, too.”

Dyad could face penalties of up to $10,000 per day, per violation, and possible license revocation, Glatt said.

Dyad was just notified of the order Thursday and the Health Department hadn’t had any formal contact with the company as of about 5 p.m. CDT, Glatt said.

A woman who answered the phone at Dyad’s office in Rigby, Idaho, referred questions to Jake McNair, vice president of operations. A message left for McNair wasn’t immediately returned.

Dyad’s facility is located north of Killdeer near the Medicine Hole Golf Course.

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.