The Williams County Board of Commissioners has extended a moratorium on applications for a facility to handle radioactive oilfield waste.

So far

Technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material, referred to as TENORM, requires special handling. A landfill applied to start storing the material last year but that application was denied and the commissioners put a one-year moratorium in place to study the issue.

North Dakota is the only oil-producing state without TENORM guidelines, so the commission asked the Western Dakota Energy Association to study the matter. 

What's new

The commissioners voted 5-0 on Tuesday, Nov. 3, to extend the moratorium through May 1, 2021, unless the county adopts rules before then. Commissioner David Montgomery, who serves on the WDEA executive board, told the other members of the board he thought an extension was a good idea.

"I guess it would be my intent that maybe we continue the moratorium for another six months, and if something changes we could recall that moratorium at any time in that six month period or a specific date," Montgomery said.

What's next

In addition to the study, the WDEA has formed a committee to look at recommendations and possible regulations. Montgomery told the other commission members that process is ongoing but is making progress.

"I think that eventually we’re going to get there," he said. "I don’t know that everyone is going to be 100% happy with it but there’s ideas suggested and floating around, and it’s a work in progress."

The study will likely include recommendations that permitting and siting be handled by the state, with the opportunity for local government input.

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