WILLISTON — A deal has been struck to drastically reduce a fine for illegally dumping radioactive filter socks in Noonan.
In documents obtained by the Williston Herald, the state of North Dakota has lowered the fine for Zenith Producted Water from nearly $800,000 to $170,000, but it could go as low as $20,000 if the company continues to cooperate, according to Alison Ritter, spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, and a consent agreement between the company and state.
Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, has signed off on the deal.
Zenith paid the $20,000 fine for cleanup and the additional $150,000 is being suspended if they continue to not have any more violations, and continue to working with the state to find out who dumped the socks, according to the agreement.
Ritter said the state could fine Zenith for not properly disposing of them because a contractor was the one who illegally dumped the socks, and Zenith was under the impression the process was being done correctly.
The deal, signed Nov. 14, came to light after a stinging report by The New York Times, which detailed the state's handling of oilfield fines. The Times reported the North Dakota Industrial Commission routinely lowered fines and collected only 10 percent of the orginal assessment to companies during a time that spills were doubling in the Bakken.
State officials have since rebuked The Times' report.