TENORM Disposal Projects Stalled
Friday, June 18, 2021

The fate of two applications for landfill disposal of TENORM waste in Williams County is uncertain after the county planning and zoning commission recommended denial of one permit and postponed action on the other.

After a hearing lasting more than two hours, the zoning board voted 7-2 to recommend the county deny a conditional use permit to Secure Energy to add TENORM disposal to its existing landfill 13 miles north of Williston. Earlier in the meeting, the board had tabled action on a similar application from WISCO Inc. because the board had not received comment from Round Prairie Township in which WISCO's landfill is located west of Williston.

Both companies had filed applications in early May to dispose of TENORM (Technologically-Enhanced, Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Material) after the county allowed a moratorium on disposal applications to expire. Although action on WISCO's operation was delayed, a vote of the zoning board could occur at a special meeting next week after it receives comments from the township. That would mean both applications could be considered by the Williams County Commission when it meets June 29.

Zoning board members had numerous questions about the disposal TENORM which is generated through oil and gas industry processes. Most of the material is now shipped to the Oaks Landfill near Glendive, Montana. Members questioned why applications weren't being considered in other oil-producing counties. Kurt Rhea, president of Radiation Pros which represents Secure Energy, told board members the Western Dakota Energy Association had looked into possible options in other counties, but pointed out the private sector market for disposal can be uncertain and the solid waste permit is expensive.

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