McKenzie County Residents Concerned About Oil Waste Landfill

Elevated radiation levels were found at the site earlier this year

Published 10/25 2016 07:05PM

Updated 10/25 2016 10:40PM

Some McKenzie County residents say a waste disposal site has them worried sick and could possibly be making them physically ill.
"I've been taking oxygen and a mask when I go," says Alexander resident Dorothy Reil. 
Reil brings the oxygen tank with her when she drives past the nearby landfill, a special waste disposal site operated by IHD Solids Management.
"The way it impacts me is instantly, within 30 seconds of being downwind from their smell, I get a severe headache and nausea," says Jed Rider, a Tri Township resident.
The state's Department of Health visited the landfill to address concerns about a smell. But the department says they did not find any significant odors present at the site.
What they did find though, through an inspection earlier this year, were elevated levels of radiation.
IHD says it unknowingly accepted the radioactive materials.
In total, IHD removed 1,925 tons of radioactive waste from the landfill.
"It creates a lot of mistrust in the area of what's actually going on for our health," says Tri Township Chairman Larry Novak. 
IHD's environmental specialist points out that radiation exists virtually everywhere, including in many household items.
The statement is something Novak has heard before.
"When IHD first brought it out, they told us that this radiation level's no greater than a banana peel or a granite countertop and I guess I feel they insult our intelligence when they say that because everybody knows I'd rather have banana peels on my land than radioactive TENORM."
IHD says it has implemented new operating procedures to monitor the waste entering its disposal site. It is also in the process of installing a radiation monitor to screen vehicles before accepting any waste.
Effective this year, landfills are able to dispose up to 50 picocuries of radiaoctive waste. Previously, only 5 picocuries were allowed. 
IHD filed for a permit modification under those new regulations. However, the company says it has voluntarily placed its application on hold while it works with McKenzie County to address public concerns. 
The North Dakota Department of Health says its latest inspection found about a ton of radioactive waste at the site that had previously been missed and that it will be removed.

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.