WISCO tenorm application June 17, 2021

Members of the WISCO team address the Williams County Planning and Zoning Commission during a public hearing June 17 about their request for an amendment to their conditional use permit allowing their special waste landfill to accept TENORM in this file 2021 photo.

Williams County commissioners have rejected an amendment that would have limited the number of TENORM facilities permitted in the county.

The idea behind the ordinance had been to protect the market from getting too many of the facilities and overwhelming demand for TENORM disposal.

The idea came up during discussion of requests by WISCO and Secure Energy Services for permission to accept up to 25,000 tons annually of TENORM wastes.

Both entities were granted TENORM amendments for their conditional use permits in June, but not until after a lengthy moratorium, during which Williams County partnered with Western Dakota Energy Association for a regional study of TENORM. Multiple public hearings were also held for the applications, which included participation by state officials to answer questions from the public and from Commissioners.

Williams County Commissioner David Montgomery mentioned the idea for capping the number of TENORM facilities as a way to limit the county’s risk from market failure. At first, the idea seemed to have broad support, but questions were raised during a July meeting of Commissioners to consider it.

Some commissioners saw limiting TENORM facilities as a way of ensuring the county wouldn’t face a large liability for cleaning up TENORM facilities if there were a market collapse. But other commissioners were uncomfortable controlling the free market that way.

Ultimately it was decided to send the zoning amendment through the Planning and Zoning Commission for consideration. That would not only give the public a chance to comment on the matter, but that entity could also take a hard look at whether the ordinance is really necessary.

The ordinance went before the Planning and Zoning Commission Sept. 16, and they ultimately recommended denial.

There was little to no public comment on the matter when it came before the Planning and Zoning Commission, Williams County Development Services staff told commissioners.

The vote to reject limiting the number of TENORM facilities was unanimous, and passed with little additional discussion.

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