Toxic waste dumping to be prosecuted

STANLEY A man accused of dumping “toxic material” onto roadways in Mountrail County will appear for a preliminary hearing on his charges in February.

Chad N. Christensen, 40, Idaho Falls, Idaho, was charged Aug. 22 with the rather obscure “violation of the rules and regulations of the North Dakota Industrial Commission,” a Class C felony, for his alleged actions.

A deputy with the Mountrail County Sheriff’s office, writing in an affidavit attached to the criminal complaint, said that his department was alerted to a semi truck “dumping a hazardous oil by-product on the roadway.” The person reporting the incident was a private landowner in the area.

Upon the deputy’s arrival, a semi with an Idaho license plate, with Christensen allegedly at the wheel, was dumping about 50 barrels worth of material on the roadway in an area stretching from one half to three quarters of a mile long. The material was identified as “invert mud water” or “drilling fluid,” a by-product of the hydraulic fracturing process at use in the Bakken formation.

The affidavit goes on to say that there are bodies of water along the roadway and that a portion of the area is considered a private driveway.

In interview, according to the affidavit, Christensen claimed he “wanted to get back to the drilling rig quicker” as his reason for the alleged dumping.

In his criminal complaint, prosecutor Wade Enget, the state’s attorney for Mountrail County, said that the area affected stretched from the 7000 block of 92nd Avenue and north to the intersection with 71st Street, where it continued east to the 9100 block of 71st Street.

According to portions of the state mineral exploration and development code, waste from oil and gas production must be disposed of only in an authorized facility. The code lists its reasoning that such waste, if allowed to pool and infiltrate soil, can cause pollution.

Christensen was scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Dec. 19, but the judge assigned to that appearance granted a motion to continue the appearance for a more agreeable date. Christensen will appear for the hearing Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. in front of Northwest District Judge Gary Lee.