OPINION: Deep Borehole Project could end up being more than a test

RUGBY, N.D. -- I am writing in response to Rob Port's and Ed Shafer's columns about a proposed deep borehole drilling project near Rugby in Pierce County, N.D. (Agweek, Page 4, March 14.)...


RUGBY, N.D. - I am writing in response to Rob Port’s and Ed Shafer’s columns about a proposed deep borehole drilling project near Rugby in Pierce County, N.D. (Agweek, Page 4, March 14.)

My brother and I rent the land from the North Dakota land department and surrounding landowners. Our farm is a mile away from the project, and I think the residents of Pierce County and surrounding counties need a voice.
The University of North Dakota Energy and Environmental Research Center, Batelle Memorial Institute and Schlumberger are proposing to drill a hole deep enough - 16,000 feet - to learn the characteristics of rocks at those levels. Researchers are hoping to better understand the impacts of deep storage systems for nuclear waste.
The objection is not about the science project. It is about people realizing if they dig a hole with federal funds, the president’s signature could make it a place to put nuclear waste.
We want to go along with science and be educated, but it takes specific planning to come up with this site. Preferably, the project would have a remote site with highway access, at least 75 miles from active oil activity.
Second, Rugby is 60 miles from major towns of more than 10,000 people. Ideally, the project would require 8,000 to 10,000 feet of drilling to reach the prized rocks, enough to isolate the most dangerous nuclear waste they are trying to find a home for. They need only one, 1-killometer hole to store the most immediate waste that needs to be disposed.
Another plus for the disposal site is, according to the state geologist, the rock in this small area seems to more dense than other areas of North Dakota. Before we are mocked for putting our heads in the sand, it should be understood that this is our backyard, and if they really wanted to just test the rocks and leave, do you really think they wouldn’t do it in the eastern part of the state where the rocks could be reached at much shallower depths?
In the east, the rocks could be reached at a depth of 1,000 to 5,000 feet, instead of 16,000.
The U.S. government needs a spot to dispose of waste, and needs it quickly after the shutdown of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Site in Nevada.
Do you really think they would conduct tests and not use the land later? There are plenty of residents who moved here from Las Vegas over the years, and everyone comments that this is how the Yucca Mountain site started - as a test site and science project.
Editor’s note: Klein is a resident of Rugby, N.D.

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