The Roundup -

Yellowstone Disposal Landfill Meeting Held March 7


March 14, 2018 | View PDF

Area residents gather to provide comment to the Department of Environmental Quality. Here, Richland County Commissioner, Duane Mitchell stands to ask a question.

On Wednesday, March 7, a meeting was held at the MonDak Heritage Center by the Department of Environment Quality (DEQ) to explain the ongoing proceedings relating to the proposed Yellowstone Disposal landfill and to receive comment from the public.

A review was given regarding the rules and prerequisites need by the applicant to receive the necessary permits to take the waste. According to Rick Thompson, the Section Supervisor for Solid Waste at DEQ, they have 15 days to notify the County Health Officer. From there, DEQ must review the application within 60 days and issue a Notice of Deficiency if any discrepancies or problems are found in the application. The applicant has 90 days to respond, and then again DEQ has an additional 60 days to either approve or provide another Notice of Deficiency and the process is repeated. Then, public comment must be received for a period of 30 days, and a public meeting must be held to receive such comment. If all concerns have been addressed and issues mitigated, DEQ will issue a Decision Document and ultimately, licensing conditions. Then, they will notify the County Health Officer who will have 15 days to respond. If they do not respond or do not validate the license, the decision can be appealed to a Board of Environmental Review, which may approve or deny the license. DEQ may, however, find that the application requires further review, based on comments submitted, and require a full Environmental Impact Statement. It seems that avenue is what community members were rallying for at the meeting.

The timeline of this process, as explained, is that the application was received in June of 2015 and deemed complete in March of 2016. After the various bureaucratic hurdles, public comment was received on December 16 of last year, and after a request for additional comment, a meeting was held on the 7th with the period for further comment to end on March 16th.

To approve the application, DEQ takes several things into consideration, including design of the landfill, groundwater monitoring and other environmental controls, and review of an operation and maintenance plan.

The question and answer period of the evening was lively. One community member asked why Montana would be taking North Dakota waste and what we did to deserve it, to applause of the crowd.

Ed Thamke, Bureau Chief for the DEQ, responded, "That's a fair question and something we repeatedly saw in the comments. Most of you probably know that the state of ND went through an update in rule writing. They had a standard of 5 picocuries [a curie is a unit of measurement for the amount of radioactivity in one gram of radium; a picocurie is one trillionth of a curie]. Where that standard originated from was air quality. Five picocuries is very low. Montana standard was 30. I made an effort to work with North Dakota to get them on board, so they were commensurate. North Dakota went with 50 picocuries. North Dakota had 3 applications to modify facilities to raise operating criteria to 50 picocurie per gram. We know it's likely to go through within the next 6-12 months."


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