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Wendy Baisch, Williston, N.D., Published June 13 2012

Forum articles put the spotlight on toxic waste in ND Oil Patch

Thanks to Nicholas Kusnetz and The Forum for publishing articles (June 10-11) about North Dakota’s oil boom, which is bringing damage amid prosperity. As a former Fargo resident and a current resident of Williston, I am thankful someone is bringing this issue forward. My husband and I have wondered if we are raising our girls in a toxic environment, poisoned by the dumping of hazardous chemicals.

I read the articles and then headed to work. I had a brief discussion about the articles with my husband, then focused attention on my work as a hospital pharmacist. My blood began to boil.

I came across a memorandum from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It outlined requirements for disposal of hazardous waste generated in the hospital. What hazardous waste?

The EPA has determined that wrappers and bottles in which Warfarin (aka Coumadin, a blood thinner) have been packaged and the wrappers in which nicotine patches and nicotine gum are packaged are classified as “acute hazardous waste.” Unless these wrappers and bottles are triple rinsed using a solvent capable of removing the residue, or cleaned by another method scientifically proven to achieve equivalent removal, or had the inner liner removed, the residue in the container must be regulated as acute hazardous waste.

Fines imposed for failure to comply are in the tens of thousands of dollars. We are talking about the wrappers and bottles, not the actual tablet or patch.

It makes me angry that the government is so concerned about wrapper residues, while they turn a blind eye to oil companies dumping millions of gallons of toxic waste – poisoning rivers, farmlands and children.

I don’t think anyone is asking oil companies to cease drilling. It would be my hope that they can find a way to drill responsibly, and to respect the environment and the people living in it.