BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s oil industry no longer has to ship all its radioactive waste out of state.
A waste disposal facility in McKenzie County has started operating, and more sites could be on the way.
Trucks have hauled nearly 100,000 tons of the radioactive material each year to landfills in other states after various companies failed to win approval to establish a depository in North Dakota. Local residents were concerned about the possible hazards of burying the waste in landfills near their homes.
One company, KT Enterprises, won approval this year to operate a slurry well. It's not a landfill. Radioactive waste is sent underground at a facility near Watford City.
The waste is processed with saltwater, another unwanted byproduct of oil and gas production, and the mixture is then injected down a well 7,500 feet deep into the Minnelusa and Amsden rock formations, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
The disposal method is used in other states, including Louisiana and Alaska.
“We had a goal and a vision and felt like this was something we could do to solve this problem,” said Keith Norbeck, vice president of KT Enterprises. “Companies are starting to send their waste to us. It’s really exciting. It’s been very, very well-received.”
The company has 12 full-time workers who have taken radiation safety training. The site will undergo regular inspections and monitoring by several state agencies tasked with permitting the facility, according to company and state officials.