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Lynn Helms

Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, talks to members of the North Dakota Industrial Commission during a meeting in July at the state Capitol in Bismarck. 


A company that illegally dumped oilfield waste in western North Dakota in 2014 has paid the state more than $950,000 in fines after the state Supreme Court affirmed the fine last month.

Black Hills Trucking paid $951,526 to the North Dakota Industrial Commission last week, said Alison Ritter, spokeswoman for the Department of Mineral Resources. It’s the largest fine collected to date by the North Dakota Industrial Commission, Ritter said.

Black Hills Trucking, part of Wyoming-based True Companies, unsuccessfully appealed the fine to the North Dakota Supreme Court, arguing the company already paid a $200,000 fine to the North Dakota Department of Health for the same violations.

The violations involved a truck driver who dumped produced water, a waste byproduct of oil production, on a Williams County gravel road in February and March of 2014.

The $950,000 fine will go to the state’s abandoned oil well site plugging restoration fund, which is used to restore sites affected by oil and gas development. The remainder, $1,526, was ordered to cover the agency’s expenses to investigate the violations.

The Industrial Commission has issued larger fines to other companies for oil and gas violations, but has not collected those fines. For example, the state agency fined Halek Operating $1.5 million for violations related to a saltwater disposal well near Dickinson, but has only been able to collect $140,000 in bonds from the company that is now dissolved.

(Reach Amy Dalrymple at 701-250-8267 or