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AgweekTV: Chemical spill at the Page, ND, elevator

The North Dakota Ag Department says an elevator at Page improperly disposed of farm chemical rinsate, but it isn't releasing any more details. last summer, the landowner next to the elevator complained to the state about a dead spot that appeared to be caused by runoff from the elevator. Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring confirms his department found a violation of state pesticide law by the Arthur Companies, and they have been cited. He says state law prevents him from saying any more. But as Mikkel Pates reports, the investigation is still going on.

The state says they did something wrong with chemicals at Page, North Dakota, but we may never know what, or how.

"The main concern that I have is for the groundwater. The thing that really bothers me more than anything is that it's about sixty feet down to the aquifer," says Don Garnas.

In June of 2017, Garnas filed a complaint with the state Ag and Health Departments. The retired farmer owns land next to the Page elevator, and he noticed a two-acre dead zone in his field. Garnas suspected the elevator, owned by Arthur Companies, had sent runoff water into his field, carrying fertilizer or something else.

"We took some samples of a couple of wells in the area, to see if there was any possible contamination of groundwater, and then we also took some soil samples as well," says Karl Rockeman.

Rockeman is the director of water quality at the North Dakota Health Department. He says their initial tests haven't found much to be concerned about. They did find some pesticides in one well, but they'll do some follow-up testing in the spring. And he says it's a good reminder to be careful with chemicals.

"It's a good opportunity to, especially as we get into the growing season, to remind anybody that's handling fertilizer and chemicals to be mindful of, you know, what they're doing with some of the byproducts that are generated from that, from rinsate, from the containers, to the equipment and the tanks. So just be mindful of how you're handling that. It can have environmental impact if it's not done with appropriately," Rockeman says.

While the state Health Department moves forward on water questions at Page, North Dakota, the Ag Department's job is finished, but secret. 

The Arthur Companies is a group of grain elevators owned by the family of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and he is on the board of directors. To read more about this story, click here.