It's one of the consequences of oil development in the Bakken -- naturally-occurring radioactive materials collect in pipelines and pits.

The state Health Department has regulatory oversight of that material. And Department Environmental chief Dave Glatt says about ten to 15 thousand tons of the material is generated every year. He told a Legislative committee North Dakota does not have licensed radioactive disposal facilities.

Black Gold Boom: A Fresh Start

Oct 17, 2013

Like just about every other new worker in North Dakota oil country, Elsie Ejismekwu came here for the money. She’s earning it by working two jobs in the Watford City area. By day she’s a trucker and at night she’s a cabbie. Ejismekwu told Black Gold Boom reporter Todd Melby she likes both gigs and a few other things about western North Dakota.

That’s Elsie Ejismekwu, a trucker and cabbie in North Dakota’s oil patch. She spoke to Black Gold Boom reporter Todd Melby.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple says the state is looking at some new procedures in reporting oil spills – such as the one near Tioga.

More than 20-thousand barrels of oil spilled from a Tesoro pipeline. The spill was initially discovered September 29th by a farmer, and it was thought to be 750 barrels. But within several days, the amount was determined to be much bigger than that.

Questions still unanswered about oil spill

Oct 15, 2013

The chief of the State Health Department’s Environmental Section says the department will be doing some further investigation into a crude oil spill north of Tioga.

More than 20-thousand barrels of oil leaked from a Tesoro pipeline into a wheat field. The leak covered an area equivalent to seven football fields. It was originally reported September  29th – and was thought to be a smaller spill of about 750 barrels. But Glatt told a Legislative interim committee – by October 8th, Tesoro said it was over 20-thousand barrels.

Wind farm decommissioning workshop cancelled

Oct 15, 2013

The Public Service Commission has canceled a workshop on wind farm decommissioning.

Instead, the PSC will deal with the companies that operate the wind farms on a case-by-case basis.

When a wind farm reaches its 10th year of operation, the company is to meet with the PSC to talk about what happens when the turbines are no longer needed.  Commissioner Randy Christmann says the companies have to have plans to clean up those sites.

The new Thunder Spirit wind farm to be built in Adams County will have the most restrictive rules on turbine locations.

The Public Service Commission requires that a turbine be placed no closer than 1400-feet from a residence. But Adams County is requiring that the distance be 2640 feet.

"This is, by far, the most restrictive the Commission has ever been involved in," said Commission Chairman Brian Kalk. "Going forward, I don not view the 2640 as a new standard. It's what the county wanted, and we complied with that."

Oil spill near Tioga may be largest spill in state history

Oct 11, 2013

the state Health Department is currently assessing and cleaning up a big oil spill near Tioga.

A pipeline owned by Tesoro leaked 20,600 barrels of crude in a wheat field about 9 miles northeast of Tioga. It covers an area the size of about seven football fields. A farmer harvesting wheat discovered the spill September 29th.  Tesoro said it's about 865,000 gallons of oil. That's enough to fill 27 railroad tanker cars, or an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Legislative interim committee to study oil taxes

Oct 8, 2013

The Legislature’s interim Taxation Committee will be looking at the way North Dakota taxes the oil industry.

The current tax structure came out of 1980’s Measure Six – which added an oil extraction tax, bringing the rate to 11-and-a-half percent. Since that time, the Legislature has put in place certain tax breaks for so-called “stripper” wells – that is, low producing wells – as well as a price trigger, so when a barrel of oil falls below a certain price threshold, the tax is cut.

A spokesman for the Lignite Energy Council says consumers will definitely feel the impact – if the attempts by the Obama administration and the EPA to shut down coal-fired power in favor of renewables are successful.

Steve Van Dyke says coal has been a reliable source for inexpensive power generation. He says the current administration is promoting the use of more expensive and less reliable renewable fuels.

Basin: We're prepared for wind farm decommissioning

Oct 1, 2013

A spokesman for Basin Electric Power Cooperative says the co-op has a plan for decommissioning wind farms – and a plan to pay for it, should that need to happen.

The Public Service Commission has opened an investigation into those decommissioning plans. And the PSC could require bonds to help pay for the reclamation.

Basin has a big wind farm in the Minot area. Basin’s Daryl Hill says the co-op has spelled out its decommissioning plans in the permit it received for the wind farm.