Over Residents' Objections, North Dakota Lets Oil Companies Dump Radioactive Waste

August 10, 2016 AT 12:10 PM

Some 50 citizens made a valiant effort Tuesday to get the State Health Council to turn back rules permitting radioactive waste disposal in North Dakota, but the council held to the approval it gave a year ago at an illegal meeting.

The advisory council to the State Health Department met to replay last August’s meeting even as it's being sued by two environmental watchdog groups. The original meeting was deemed illegal because the public did not receive proper notice.

Despite some very emotional testimony, calls of “Why aren’t you listening to us?” along with scientific input, the council voted unanimously on Tuesday to ratify the new rules allowing up to 50 picocuries of radioactive waste from oil and gas production in specially permitted landfills.

After the vote, the council’s attorney said it will ask a district court judge for a summary judgment to end the lawsuit filed by the Dakota Resource Council and the North Dakota Energy Industry Waste Coalition. The suit challenges any actions stemming from the original, illegal meeting.

Assistant attorney Jeff Erickson said the request for a summary judgment would be based on the fact that, by replaying and ratifying the entire agenda from last August, “everything that would have happened has happened.”

The groups’ attorney, Sarah Vogel, said she intends to continue the suit. The Health Council scheduled Tuesday’s do-over after the district court threw out its earlier request to have the case dismissed.

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