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Radioactive Material Illegally Dumped Near Noonan, ND - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Radioactive Material Illegally Dumped Near Noonan, ND

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The illegal dumping of radioactive material generated by the Bakken oil boom is becoming a problem. Last month, thousands of pounds of contaminated oil socks were discovered near Arnegard in McKenzie County, North Dakota.

The publicity from that incident has triggered another investigation by the State Health department, this time in Noonan, North Dakota. Jerry Huerta gives us a closer look at the building where the most recent illegal waste disposal incident is being monitored.

An auto garage that has been abandoned for three years is now attracting lots of attention. Crime scene tape has been stretched across the outside of the building and no one is being allowed inside.

"I do know that from talking to the department of health they would like to have the area fenced not just the crime scene tape," explains Divide County Emergency Manager Jody Gunlock.

Gunlock says more than 200 plastic garbage sacks containing contaminated oil filter socks are being illegal stored in the building. 

"If somebody were to handle this stuff and get it in their system it would cause problems for you," Gunlock says.

He adds the high exposure can cause sterility, blood disorders and possibly cancer, but there should be no concerns unless someone goes into the building. 

"We've told people to stay out. We've got crime scene tape around it. We do not want people to go in there to look or take pictures to handle it."

Approximately 120 people live in Noonan, but not many are overly concerned about the illegal dumping of radioactive material in their town. Barry Eide is the manager at the elevator in Noonan.

"The town is not overly concerned," Eide says.  "They are worried about it being cleaned and taken out of here but they're not overly concerned."

The mayor of Noonan, however, is very upset about the illegal dumping of radioactive waste in the town.

Gunlock says North Dakota does not allow radioactive material to be disposed of in landfills, so hazardous material must be shipped out of state. He says to prevent illegal dumping in the future the Department of Health needs to track oil socks from where they are generated all the way through the handling, transportation and disposal process.

Gunlock says after the oil socks are moved from the site the entire building will probably have to be leveled and disposed of to prevent residual contamination.

The fine for the illegal disposing of the two to four thousand oil socks at the Noonan site could possibly top $400,000 dollars.
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