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Legislators Call for Ban on Fracking Waste Disposal in NY

Waste water from fracking contains so much salt that it is sometimes spread on roads as a deicer. (Z22/Wikimedia Commons)
Waste water from fracking contains so much salt that it is sometimes spread on roads as a deicer. (Z22/Wikimedia Commons)
September 15, 2016

ALBANY, N. Y. – State legislators are calling on the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to close a loophole in waste regulations and ban the disposal of fracking waste in the state.

New York State banned fracking last year, but solid and liquid fracking waste from out of state is still going to New York landfills. State Sen. Liz Kruger, D-Dist. 28, explained that a longstanding loophole exempts waste from oil and gas operations from being classified as "hazardous." She said new waste-management regulations now being considered don't change that.

"We could significantly improve the status of our water remaining clean if DEC applies the stricter definitions in the regulations they are finalizing, literally as we speak," said Kruger.

Fracking waste can contain hundreds of chemicals, including carcinogens and radioactive materials. Twenty senators and more than 30 members of the Assembly have signed letters calling on the DEC to close the loophole and ban disposal of all fracking waste in the state.

Under the proposed DEC rules, out-of-state fracking waste would still be allowed in landfills.

The waste water from low-volume fracking operations contains so much salt that it is spread on roads as a deicing agent - without routine testing," noted Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Dist. 27.

"It still might contain some very toxic substances, like radium and lead," said Hoylman. "Those can be harmful to pedestrians and drivers, wildlife, local ecosystems."

Twenty New York counties have banned fracking waste. But statewide, bills introduced in both houses of the Legislature have failed to pass.

According to Liz Moran, water and natural resources associate at Environmental Advocates of New York, the state doesn't need to wait for the Legislature to act.

"This rulemaking on Part 360 offers a crucial opportunity for DEC to ban the improper disposal and road-spreading of these wastes," Moran said.

The public comment period for the proposed regulations ended this week.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY