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County Commissioners Voice Concerns about Facility

Oct. 4, 2017


North Dakota Dept. of Health

Division of Air Quality

918 E. Divide Avenue

Bismarck, ND 58501-1947


Re: Radioactive Materials License to Waste Management for operation of the Tobacco Garden Processing Facility


Director O’Clair,

We the members of the McKenzie County Board of County Commissioners request a delay of issuing Waste Management of North Dakota, Inc. a license for the operation of the Tobacco Garden Processing Facility until we have time to thoroughly review the materials that were only sent to our staff September 28, 2017, less than a week ago. 


Mr. Reice Haase of HRD made a presentation to our Board yesterday afternoon. In his presentation he noted that he spoke with our Planning Director, Jim Talbert, over 18 months ago that they were searching for potential sites for a facility.  No other details were disclosed at that time and there has been no other contact, discussions, or communication with our staff concerning their plans and intents.  Whether intentional or not, we feel these plans have been kept from us and now sprung on us without time to properly respond.


Upon receiving the information a few days ago we have reached out to the Twin Valley Township Board and found that they are opposed to the project but felt they had no recourse to object to their License.  We have informed them that since the injection wells are regulated by the NDIC, the Township has limited ability to affect changes in the location and regulations surrounding the operations and activities of the injection wells. However, the Dept of Health licenses the disposal of solid waste including NORM and TENORM materials, and we encouraged them to contact the NDDoH, Division of Air Quality to express their concerns.


In a cursory review of the materials provided we note items that need further review.

  1. The site address provided, 12268 38th St NW, Watford City, ND 58854 is not an address that has been issued by the County’s GIS Coordinator.  They have not requested nor received an address which is a part of our 911 emergency response requirements.

  2. They have not met with or contacted the County’s Emergency Manager or the District Fire Chief to review plans and contingencies for any fire or emergencies that may happen at the site during construction or operation of the facility.

  3. No site plans or building plans have been submitted for review by our Fire Inspector or Building inspector.

  4. The Radiation Safety Manual that was provided seems very general without sufficient specifics on handling spills, accidents, or precise procedures if incidents were to occur. There does not seem to be any detail on the number of monitor wells or specifics on how incidents will be addressed if the monitor wells detect contamination and the procedures that will be taken in such an event.

  5. There is no mention of annual training and drills with first responders and emergency management.

  6. The location of entries and exits to the site raise safety issues.  There are currently no deceleration or acceleration lanes or turn lanes provided off of the county road. Sight lines are limited in this area because of terrain and must be analyzed.  Waste Management’s estimates are that at least 50 trucks per day may be entering and exiting the facility.

  7. Waste Management stated that there would be no TENORM on the site and yet their application and safety manual seem to contradict this assertion.

  8. The Water Resource Board has reported that the Rural Water Service has recently finished a waterline directly adjacent to this property and they need to assess potential dangers to the waterline and water supply that may be affected by this facility.


During their presentation to the Board yesterday we noted and applaud Waste Management’s statements that they were going to require the testing and documentation of testing of the material that they will accept at this facility.  They also mentioned that dosimeters will be worn by workers at the perimeter of the site to detect radiation that may escape the site. They further assured us that any truck coming to the site without documentation that the materials had been tested for the amount of picocuries would be rejected. They further assured us that any material that exceeded background radiation would be rejected.  The Waste Management representatives stated at the onset of their comments that this facility will not accept any TENORM.  When or if a license is issued we request that these procedures be a part of their requirements since they have publicly assured us that they will follow them.


The materials provided seem to have been hastily put together without full consideration of site issues and safety protocol.  Waste Management representative indicated that it was their hope and anticipation that construction would begin in less than 2 weeks and be operational before the end of this month.  We therefore request that this application be put on hold until we can fully review the impacts to the site, roads and safety concerns.  We appreciate the Department of Health and the Division of Air Quality’s oversight to protect our citizens and environment.




McKenzie County Board of County Commissioners,

Douglas Nordby, Chairman

Vawnita Best, Vice Chairman

Kathy Skarda

Gene Veeder

Tom McCabe



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