Oregon regulators fine companies $368,000 for illegally disposing of radioactive waste

The two companies have been issued a notice of violation for disposing of 2.5 million pounds of radioactive Bakken oilfield waste at a landfill outside of Arlington, Oregon.

Oregon regulators have issued $368,000 in fines to a landfill owner and waste hauler for disposing of 2.5 million pounds of radioactive Bakken oilfield waste from North Dakota at a landfill outside of Arlington, The Oregonian reports.

The Oregon Department of Energy (DOE) issued a notice of violation in February to Chemical Waste Management of Arlington for accepting the waste, which was delivered by rail between 2016 and 2019.

Some of that drilling waste registered radium levels at 300 times the state’s limits. On average, the waste registered radium at 140 picocuries per gram, according to state nuclear waste specialists. The state’s maximum level for waste stored at Arlington is 5 picocuries.

The waste is known as TENORM , or technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials.

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on Aug. 28 issued a $60,000 fine to the landfill’s owner, Chemical Waste Management, for illegally disposing of prohibited radioactive waste at the site.

It also assessed another $308,656 penalty to Oilfield Waste Logistics, a hazardous waste disposal company based in Culbertson, Montana.

According to The Oregonian, $303,856 of the total penalty represents the estimated economic benefit the company gained by avoiding the additional disposal costs it would have incurred at a facility permitted to accept it.

Both companies have 20 days to appeal the fines.

Oregon regulators initially received a tip about the illegal dumping from a caller in North Dakota. They discovered the violation after checking data provided by the landfill as well as from the state of North Dakota.

Regulators said in February that Oilfield Waste Logistics “erroneously” cited Oregon rules and landfill operators referred to the wrong state standards for waste containing radium.

The Energy Department required Chemical Waste Management to complete a detailed risk assessment and corrective action plan, which were due to the agency Sept. 8. They will be posted for a 60-day public comment period, and the agency plans to hold a public meeting to present its own analysis of the documents and accept public comments.


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