The NYS economy depends on clean water, air, soil and consumer confidence. While there may be a statewide ban on fracking in effect, the by-products continue to make their way into New York State. Re-use and disposal methods for solid and liquid drilling waste include road spreading (for de-icing, dust control, road stabilization), treatment by wastewater facilities, and landfill disposal.
More than 500,000 tons of fracking waste have been transported to New York landfills from Pennsylvania since 2010. And since mid-2011 road spreading of oil and natural gas production brine and natural gas storage brine has been approved for use on roads in portions of at least 41 municipalities & 15 counties.
Brine testing results revealed extremely high levels of chloride, which can corrode infrastructure and harm aquatic life and vegetation. Other harmful pollutants in waste include chemical additives, heavy metals, and normally occurring radioactive materials. Exposure to these contaminants in fracking waste could harm public health. When workers are sick or worrying about a sick family member, productivity decreases and absenteeism increases – both of which are costly for business.
The concern is magnified by a special exemption from the hazardous waste definition in NYS regulations for waste produced by the oil and gas industry. In addition to the risk of not being tracked and handled properly, the loophole also provides a cushion for the oil & gas industry from the costly obligations of appropriate handling practices keeping the costs artificially low. We are not asking to place an extra burden on the oil and gas industry, but that it simply play by the same rules that govern every other industry in the state.
15 counties have already taken the lead to prohibit waste disposal practices, but a statewide moratorium is essential to protect all New York businesses. The byproducts & infrastructure related to shale development must undergo the same scrutiny as fracking.
Legislators need to hear from more business voices who care about environmental responsibility. So what can you do?
- Stay tuned! NYS DEC will be amending its current rules and holding public hearings in June and accepting comments from the public through July 15 on the proposed changes. Read our recent update on fracking waste for more details.
- Watch the webinar “Fracking Waste in New York: A Business Perspective” presented by NYSSBC & Riverkeeper to learn more about the waste being disposed and the impacts to businesses.
- Call or email your Senator & Assemblyperson and tell them you are concerned about fracking waste in New York (look up contact info here). Tell them to support the bills on the hazardous waste loophole S884/A6859, fracking waste disposal S340/A130 & fracking waste road spreading S48/A211.
- Write an op-ed to submit to your local paper – contact Laura Ornstein for help: firstname.lastname@example.org or (845)202-0591.
- See Riverkeeper’s webpage The Facts About New York and Fracking Waste for more details about how much fracking waste has been disposed of and which counties have enacted bans. Use their model legislation to encourage your county to ban fracking waste disposal.
- See FracTracker’s maps on where PA’s waste was disposed of in New York and which roads waste has been spread on.