By Ruth Ann Replogle

Coming in August, Hennessey residents will notice changes west of town.

Iodine Star Inc., a Texas-based company with Jewish  and Ukrainian roots focused on creating an iodine national reserve for the United States, will open its first-ever iodine extraction plant five miles west of Hennessey. 

Dr. Nick Sakharov, who is one of Iodine Star’s vice presidents responsible for business development and investment, recently sat down with All About Hennessey to discuss what this means for Hennessey, the state, and even the nation.

Dr. Sakharov said one of their goals is build several iodine extraction plants in Oklahoma, which will allow the U.S. to become self-sufficient in iodine and lithium rather than importing it from other countries like the nation does now. 

Iodine is commercially used in pharmaceuticals for cancer screening, wound treatment and to regulate metabolism, disinfectants, LCD matrices, printing inks and dyes, catalysts, animal feed supplements, and photographic chemicals to name a few.

And it’s one of the components found in the oil and gas byproduct called saltwater or oilfield brine. Millions of gallons of this hazardous waste produced from fracking are then meant to be safely discarded at a saltwater disposal wells (SWD). The wastewater contained in a SWDs is of no benefit to humans or to the land in its disposal form; in fact, if spilled, it can result in contamination as recently seen near Hillsdale, Oklahoma.

The second goal Iodine Star has, Nick said, is when they extract the iodine from the saltwater previously disposed at their wells, after the water flowback they will purify the water, making it usable again. This demand for fresh potable water will make it a commodity just like the iodine.


Iodine Star surveyed iodine levels in Texas and Oklahoma and found “Oklahoma has the best iodine,” Dr. Sakharov said. Despite Texas being a leader in oil and gas, the Lone Star State only has a concentration of 60-100 micrograms of iodine per liter. Whereas Oklahoma has over 200 micrograms per liter.

In addition, Nick said, Oklahomans are much more interested in protecting the environment, finding fresh water solutions from saltwater disposal, and being cost-efficient in the process. 

For over a decade, there has been a saltwater disposal site west of Hennessey that several area oil and gas companies utilize called Red Hawk SWD. That is the site Iodine Star is up to acquire; it will be handling saltwater disposal there hopefully later this summer.

As companies dispose of their saltwater, Iodine Star will be testing that water to determine the concentration of iodine and come up to them proposing better pricing. And hopefully, by Christmas, Dr. Sakharov said, the company should be able to extract iodine from the saltwater being disposed. The last piece of equipment, he said, is en route across the Atlantic Ocean. He explained it will take five to six months to finish construction of the iodine extraction plant. 

Iodine Star will stand up a base of operations within Kingfisher County to manage this inaugural iodine extraction plant. Nick said he will temporarily live in the area—he hails from Houston—to oversee the Hennessey plant and the second proposed plant slated to open outside of Dewey County’s tiny town of Oakwood, nearly 60 miles southwest of Hennessey. His office eventually will be at the Oakwood site.

The third goal of Iodine Star is these iodine extraction plants will boost the local economies, Dr. Sakharov said, by creating jobs both through the construction and the hiring and training of the workforce. Plus, as word gets out about their sustainable water purification, he said companies from across the region will seek to do business in Hennessey and Oakwood.

The company’s owner, Mrs. Lia Neumann, strongly believes in partnering with local businesses and schools and strengthening America’s rural communities as part of her vision to keep the U.S. an economic global leader.  Learn more about Iodine Star at iodinestar.com.