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North Dakota Alleges Saltwater Dumping by Trucking Firm

A Wyoming-based trucking company is facing potential fines of more than $1 million, and criminal charges against the driver of the truck for allegedly dumping saltwater from oil and gas operations in North Dakota's Bakken Shale, according to the state Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).

A DMR field inspector witnessed one of the alleged violations on a Williams County road over a period of February and March in which surveillance equipment recorded the possible illegal activity, a spokesperson told NGI's Shale Daily on Tuesday. North Dakota's Department of Health also is pursuing potential enforcement actions.

Casper, WY-based Black Hills Trucking Inc. apparently allowed wastewater fluid to flow directly on the ground; improperly disposing of fluid; and failing to have a proper license to haul waste in North Dakota.

State officials seized on this latest incident to emphasize that companies operating in North Dakota would face stiff penalties if they violate any of the increasingly stringent DMR rules (see Shale Daily, Jan. 23).

In February and March Black Hills Trucking vehicles were recorded on surveillance equipment with "salt water pouring from open valves" driving to and from a Williams County saltwater disposal well, according to DMR Director Lynn Helms. The driver  faces criminal charges which, if convicted, could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and be fined $10,000.

DMR is seeking maximum penalties totaling more than $950,000 in the Black Hills case. Helms noted that any violation of the DMR rules and regulations is subject to a $12,500 penalty for each alleged offense, and each day's violation is a separate offense.

For example, the one alleged violation by the trucking company related to not having the proper license required to haul oilfield waste could result in a penalty of up to $1,000/day for each day of operation without a license, said DMR's Dave Glatt, environmental health section chief.

"Companies should take notice that they need to understand what is required if they are going to do business in this state," Glatt said. "If they fail to comply, they may be fined."

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