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Concerns over radioactive waste disposal voiced in Missoula

Posted at 10:16 AM, Dec 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-04 12:16:56-05

MISSOULA — Members of the Northern Plains Research Council called are calling attention to Montana’s rules regarding the disposal of radioactive waste.

The group met with the Air Quality Advisory Council in Missoula on Tuesday evening.

Federal law currently doesn’t mandate the disposal the low level radioactive waste generated through fracking -- TENORM -- meaning the rules of waste disposal vary from state to state.

North Dakota, for example, has much stricter regulations than Montana, so they transport and dump their radioactive oilfield waste in Glendive. The disposal facility there has accepted 253,000 tons of oilfield waste to date with the vast majority coming from North Dakota.

But there’s also another site in Montana that’s permitted to accept the waste -- the landfill in Missoula . Northern Plains member Hal Schmid says the landfill has yet to accept any radioactive waste but it’s on track to.

“The biggest danger still comes from inhaling it or ingesting through contaminated water. And then those particles are then absorbed through your tissue, and remain in your body,” Schmid said. “And that’s where the greatest danger from radioactivity comes from.

Schmid added that if we want to avoid being North Dakota’s dumping ground, the state of Montana needs stricter regulations.