New York State’s plan to deal with the waste products of high-volume fracking will endanger public health and the environment, according to a May 4, 2012 report by the Environmental Advocates of New York.
Beginning in November 2011, government watchdog group Environmental Advocates conducted an inquiry into the state’s practices and plans for the transport, treatment, and disposal of waste produced at gas wells. Environmental Advocates submitted requests to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) under the Freedom of Information Law. In response, they received and reviewed over 100 permits the state has issued for existing natural gas wells.
As of 2009, there were 6,628 gas wells in New York, mostly using low-volume fracking techniques to extract natural gas from the ground. If Governor Cuomo decides to allow the more controversial high-volume fracking technique, New York could become home to thousands more natural gas wells. High-volume fracking uses huge quantities of water and proprietary chemical blends – often millions of gallons per well – that must be disposed of once the wells are complete.
The Environmental Advocates report identifies many problems with the future of high-volume fracking in New York. On many permits for existing wells, drillers do not identify disposal plans for waste. Permits only say that disposal will be done “properly” without providing details. These omissions make the hazardous byproducts of fracking impossible to trace, something that would be unthinkable if not for a “loophole” that makes fracking waste exempt from hazardous waste laws.
As a result of the study, Environmental Advocates is calling for Governor Cuomo to “close the hazardous waste loophole for drilling waste, require that new measures to protect New York from high-volume fracking apply to all fracking operations, prohibit sewage plants from accepting drilling waste, and ban road spreading,” says Katherine Nadeau, Water and Natural Resources Director for the organization.
The full Environmental Advocates of New York report can be accessed on the web.