Waste dumping solution

NEW TOWN A Colorado company has a solution for the illegal dumping of hazardous waste and other problems caused by some heavy truck drivers in the North Dakota oil field.

Native Resource Management in Colorado Springs was contracted by the Three Affiliated Tribes’ North Segment Community Development Corporation to conduct a pilot project on the Fort Berthold Reservation to demonstrate the company’s Traffic Monitoring and Truck Tracking system and also so the tribes could learn the scope and projected environmental and safety impacts of heavy truck traffic on the reservation.

The North Segment organization also wanted to develop a solution to enable the tribes to reduce the impacts and better manage the reservation’s heavy truck traffic as the number of oil wells is expected to more than double over the next five years.

“The problem of illegal dumping of hazardous waste and fluids involved in oil and gas drilling and production has rapidly increased in North Dakota and other largely rural states with new oil production. Trucking companies, oil producers and local governments are all looking for a way to address this problem, and NRM has found a solution to overcome this,” said Gene Keluche, chairman of Native Resource Management.

Keluche cited a recent incident when a North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources’ inspector witnessed a truck driver illegally dumping a load of oil well production water on a county road. State officials said the truck driver may be criminally prosecuted and the truck company he worked for could be fined $1 million to $2 million.

NRM’s Traffic Monitoring and Truck Tracking system has been used on the Fort Berthold Reservation for the past several months. NRM’s proprietary system integrates data from a combination of onboard sensors, GPS, accelerometers and video license plate information.

Fort Berthold is in the heart of the Bakken, an area with prolific oil development. The reservation accounts for about 28.5 percent of North Dakota’s oil production, according to state officials.

The nearly 1-million acre Fort Berthold Reservation, with the communities of New Town, Four Bears, Parshall, White Shield, Mandaree and Twin Buttes in it, is bordered by North Dakota Highways 22 and 23 and has about 1,500 miles of rural Bureau of Indian Affairs unpaved roads.

However, company officials said it is obvious from the demonstration project that the majority of the truck traffic will remain primarily in the Mandaree segment along Highway 22, and the North segment along Highway 23, and the Four Bears Bridge over Lake Sakakawea as well as the Four Bears and White Shield segments.

NRM and its subcontractors, including Safety Vision, a mobile video company, and others, conducted the pilot project by tracking 100 heavy trucks, first responder and law enforcement vehicles and school buses that logged more than 700,000 miles on the reservation.

Most of the vehicles tracked were tribally owned vehicles, said Ken Hall, North Segment representative to the Three Affiliated Tribes’ business council.

“Over 7,000 potential pick up and drop off sites for fresh, fracking and production water throughout the reservation were geofenced, as were environmentally and culturally sensitive areas,” NRP officials said.

Geofencing is software that uses the global positioning system (GPS) to define geographical boundaries.

“This geofencing enabled the tracking of all demonstration vehicles that entered these sites by vehicle number, time, duration, owner, and driver and what kind of load, if any, was picked up or deposited. NRM’s proprietary system integrates data from a combination of onboard sensors, GPS, accelerometers and video license plate information as well as external weather, traffic and road condition advisories and alerts, company officials said.

NRM’s group of companies developed techniques, one of them patented by Safety Vision, as part of an integrated computer platform. The use of the technologies, integrated into one Network Operating Center, provides the ability to notify authorized departments and agencies in real time of an “event”and will assist enforcement agencies to identify, prosecute and greatly reduce illegally dumping and other practices.

For example, when a truck load is illegally dumped, the system will alert the designated parties (state, tribal, producer and trucking companies) that an illegal dump has occurred. The information will include where the load was picked up, the time, date, location, truck number and license plate number of the violation, company officials said.

“NRM’s system is capable of automatically recording the license plate numbers of trucks coming on the reservation and comparing these numbers with the tribes’ record of trucks licensed to do business on the reservation, as well as their owners or operators. A comparison of this data with the National License Plate Registry by law enforcement agencies will also reveal outstanding warrants and convictions, if any,” officials said.

When the trucks are properly licensed and equipped, the system is capable of giving near real-time notices of violations of state or tribal regulations including dumping hazardous materials, pickup and delivery of loads at unauthorized locations, overloaded trucks, dangerous driving (speeding, swerving, hard braking and impact) and vehicles using restricted roads or entering environmentally or culturally sensitive areas.

In addition to informing first responders and enforcement agencies of the exact location of the event and best route, the system will automatically notify the truck owner or trucking company and their employer, of prohibited or illegal infractions by the individual truck and its driver, company officials said.

The results of the demonstration project confirmed Native Resource Management’s earlier estimates of the average number of trips, their duration, type of load carried and miles traveled by heavy trucks to and from geofenced locations on the reservation, and disposal and delivery sites within 50 miles of the reservation boundary. Operational and safety benefits were also reported by first responders, enforcement agencies and the school district.

Based on the success of the demonstration project, the Three Affiliated Tribes are considering implementing the program throughout the Fort Berthold Reservation, Hall said. He said those who would come under the system would be TERO-licensed vehicles operating on the reservation with truck license plates of Class 6, 7 and 8. TERO stands for Tribal Employment Rights Office.

Hall said the the main thing is to help with safety on the reservation and the environmental issues.

If approved by the tribes, NRM’s Network Operating Center, which will host the Traffic Monitoring and Truck Traffic system, will be located at the company’s facilities in Denver.

Keluche and Bruce Smith, president and chief executive officer of Safety Vision, said, in a joint statement, “Our technology ensures that the oil drilling industry will be environmentally safe and establishes accountability on those who do not operate legally. As part of this system, trucking companies are also offered a tablet in each truck that will enable them to have paperless dispatch and billing, and the ability to comply with the new U.S. Department of Transportation regulations requiring an electronic onboard recorder to track and display hours of service.”