North Dakota authorities are seeking nearly $1 million in fines against a trucking company accused of illegally dumping salt water on a gravel road — though some question whether they have the authority to do so.
Trucking Company Caught Illegally Dumping Salt Water On Road
The three dumping incidents took place on a Williams County road in 2014. One occurred when an inspector witnessed a Black Hills Trucking Inc. vehicle dumping salt water onto the road. Black Hills was caught dumping salt water onto the road on two other occasions by surveillance equipment. The salt water was a by-product of oil production.
Questions Remain Over Who Has Authority To Issue Fines
The North Dakota Industrial Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to pursue the heavy $950,000 fine against Black Hills in spite of the fact that last month a judge ruled that they had no jurisdiction over the case. Rather, the judge said that the Department of Health has jurisdiction in the case because the dumping took place on a public road.
Black Hills had previously come to an agreement with the Department of Health to pay $200,000 in fines for operating in the state without a proper license with $259,000 in additional fines suspended.
The Industrial Commission argues that dual jurisdiction with the Department of Health keeps violators from slipping though regulatory gaps.
The Black Hills truck driver involved in the dumping, Leo Slemin, has already pled guilty for his role in the incident and was issued a $3,000 fine.
Black Hills is expected to appeal the ruling in district court within the next 30 days.