Carrier Faces Nearly $1 Million In Fines Over Oilfield Waste Dumping

A Wyoming-based trucking company is facing possible fines of more than $1 million for alleged illegally dumping of saltwater on a road, while criminal charges have been filed against the driver.

Black Hills Trucking, Casper, Wyo, is alleged to have violated multiple environmental sections of North Dakota law by allowing the oil drilling waste to flow directly on the ground, by improperly disposing of fluid and by failing to have a proper license to haul waste.

“On behalf of the Industrial Commission, the division is seeking maximum penalties totaling more than $950,000 in this case,” said Lynn Helms, director of the Oil & Gas Division of the Department of Mineral Resources. “According to North Dakota law, any violation of the commission’s rules and regulations is subject to a penalty of $12,500 for each offence. Each day’s violation is a separate offence.

Helms said that on several occasions in February and March, surveillance equipment recorded the company’s trucks with salt water pouring from open valves driving to and from a Williams County saltwater disposal well. A Department of Mineral Resources field inspector witnessed one of the incidents. The driver in that case is facing criminal charges through the attorney general’s office. If convicted, he could be sentenced to five years imprisonment, a fine of $10,000 or both. The trial is set for April 21.

The Department of Health is also pursuing enforcement actions relating to the alleged illegal dumping incidents.

“One violation in particular relates to Black Hills Trucking not having the proper license required to haul oil field waste in the state which could result in a penalty of up to $1,000 per day for each day of operation without a license,” said Dave Glatt, environmental health section chief.