Radioactive Waste Lands Wyoming Company In Hot Water

Feb 25, 2014

Credit Rick Schreiber

A Wyoming company is in trouble with North Dakota officials for improperly disposing of filter socks used in oil and gas drilling. Filter socks capture sediment in flowback water, and can concentrate naturally-occurring radioactivity. The North Dakota Department of Health says inspectors detected radioactivity at above-background levels on two flatbed trailers piled high with filter socks that are owned by Riverton-based R.P Services. They say there’s no immediate public health risk, but that the filters will need to be disposed of properly, and leakage at the site will need to be cleaned up.

McKenzie County landfill director Rick Schreiber says filter socks have become a big issue for North Dakota in recent years because it’s expensive to dispose of them at approved landfills.

“This is not something new, we see this stuff all the time. But on the level we’re seeing this case, this is by far the largest I’ve seen." He adds, "When the drilling is all done and people leave, the folks that are going to be here for the next 50 years, we don’t want to have to be dealing with this stuff later on. Let’s do it right the first time.”

Wyoming’s Oil and Gas Supervisor knew of no similar issues in this state. R.P. Services didn’t return a request for comment, but told the Bismark Tribune they weren't aware of the disposal requirements.