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State plugs troubled saltwater disposal well near Dickinson

April 5, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s Oil and Gas Division has plugged a saltwater disposal well that was the site of environmental violations and a lengthy federal investigation.

State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms told The Bismarck Tribune that the well near Dickinson formerly owned by Halek Operating was plugged in late February. Helms said reclamation work is expected to begin sometime this spring.

Regulators had ordered the well to be shut down in 2012 because it wasn’t in compliance with federal rules and put drinking water sources at risk.

The site’s closing led to the federal investigation into well operators Jason Halek, of Southlake, Texas, and Nathan Garber, of Kalispell, Montana. They were ordered to pay $40,000 in restitution for the restoration after pleading guilty to violating the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Restoration at the site was delayed while state regulators waited for the federal investigation to conclude.

The Oil and Gas Division said the state spent more than $82,700 to plug the well. The cost to reclaim the land is estimated in federal court records to be $60,000.

The agency is using funds from North Dakota’s Abandoned Well Plugging and Site Restoration Fund to clean the site. The fund made up of confiscated bonds, fees and civil penalties from the oil industry and a portion of oil tax revenue.

Regulators have also sold equipment from the site for about $15,000 and confiscated a $20,000 bond from the site.

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