A Belgrade man hired to dispose of radioactive oilfield waste was sentenced to prison time Thursday for dumping the contaminants instead at an abandoned gas station in North Dakota.
James Kenneth Ward, 58, was sentenced to four months in prison by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris. Ward had already served that time in custody before sentencing.
Ward must also serve two years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud in July.
Zenith Produced Water LLC hired Ward to incinerate and dispose of filter socks containing oilfield waste, according to prosecutors' court filings.
The 2017 case stems from earlier years. Ward's paychecks for his work were made in 2011 and 2012.
"Ward's actions not only defrauded a company that had hired him to properly dispose of oil drilling waste but they also put the environment and the public at risk by deliberately abandoning the contaminated materials at an unsecure, defunct gas station property," said U.S. Attorney for Montana Kurt Alme, in a press release.
The court ordered Ward to pay a $2,500 fine and $9,977 in restitution. The restitution amount is the sum the company paid Ward for his work.
Ward's defense attorney declined to comment.
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