Native Village 
Youth and Education News

April 1, 2013

Tribe warns that children might play with illegally dumped filter socks
Condensed by Native Village

North Dakota: The Three Affiliated Tribes is worried about children playing with potentially radioactive filters. Used by the oil industry, these filters are often illegally dumped in fields, dumpsters and along roads.

Edmund Baker is acting director of the tribes’ Environmental Division. He said filter socks have been found in tribal dumpsters and along Fort Berthold Reservation roads, especially near Mandaree and its community dumpsters.

The filters look like small nets that children might mistake for a toy or fishing item.

Baker issued a public notice and will also attend meetings around Fort Berthold to educate the public on the danger.

“This office is asking the communities to report any illegal activity regarding the dumping or the abandoning of these filters within our boundaries,” he said.

The notice contains a special procedure for sock disposals. No one should handle them. Instead, they should be reported to his tribal office at 627-4569, or his cell phone at 421-6873.

The filters are used to screen oil well fluids that are injected into disposal wells. These fluids may be concentrated with radioactive materials that occur naturally in the soil.

Some materials used for hydraulic fracturing also are radioactive.

Baker said the radioactive exposure is similar to getting an X-ray. But if the material on the socks is ingested hand to mouth, it “can result in serious health problems up to a fatality.”

Baker was alerted to the problem when a tribal garbage delivery was stopped at a solid waste landfill and fined for attempting to bring in the filter socks. The drivers were unaware the socks were in their load. They are trying to track down which community was the point of origin.

Baker said part of the problem is that reservation communities can be isolated and unaware of oil field waste issues.

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