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North Dakota officials approve higher level of radioactivity in disposed oilfield waste

BISMARCK – State health officials gave their blessing Tuesday to new rules that would allow the disposal of filter socks and other radioactive oilfield waste in certain North Dakota landfills, stoking fears among opponents that the state will become a dumping ground for other states.

The State Health Council voted unanimously to adopt rules that would permit radioactivity levels of up to 50 picocuries per gram, 10 times the current limit that forces companies to ship the waste out of state. The 11-member council is the governing and advisory body of the state Department of Health.

Operators of the state’s 13 landfills that accept special waste or industrial waste would have to apply for a permit modification to receive the waste with higher radioactivity.

The rules still need approval from Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee.Dave Glatt, the health department’s environmental health chief, said the rules could potentially be in effect by Jan. 1. 

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