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Published July 17, 2013, 08:54 AM

McLean County Commission denies oil field waste site request

WASHBURN, N.D. (AP) — The McLean County Commission has denied a company's permit request seeking to turn a fly ash disposal site near Underwood into a landfill for oil field waste.

WASHBURN, N.D. (AP) — The McLean County Commission has denied a company's permit request seeking to turn a fly ash disposal site near Underwood into a landfill for oil field waste.

Washburn resident Dennis Kost said he's delighted with Tuesday's 2-1 vote denying Great River Energy's request. He told the Minot Daily News that people are not interested in accepting negative aspects of oil development without seeing benefits.

McLean County is a small producer with 46 oil wells, all on the county's western edge.

Commissioner Pam Link said she struggled to justify the landfill in a county not in the heart of oil development. Link said the health department reports 12 disposal sites to the west that are in use, under construction or in the permitting phase.

"I think, at this time, the county is not ready for this," she said.

Greg Ridderbusch, vice president of business development and strategy for Maple Grove, Minn.-based Great River Energy, said the company accepts the commission's decision.

"It's part of the public process, and we respect that," he said. "It doesn't mean that that we don't hold the point of view that this was a very, very good project."

Great River Energy since the mid-1990s has operated a landfill for fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal. Fly ash now has a market in such industries as road construction, and the company was seeking to repurpose the landfill.

The landfill would have taken cuttings and drilling mud. Cuttings consist of soil and rock extracted during drilling, and the mud contains chemicals and water used to cool drill bits and bring cuttings to the surface. None of the waste would have come from out of state, Ridderbusch said.

Commission chairman Steve Lee of Mercer said opposition from Longfellow Township and the two soil conservation districts in the county, along with the potential for increased highway traffic, persuaded him that the project should be rejected.

"I have gotten responses both ways," Lee said. "Probably overwhelmingly, though, the responses have been negative."

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