This legislation bans drilling fluids, brine, and flowback water from oil and gas wells from being spread on New York highways as a deicer or dust suppressant. The inherently toxic and potentially hazardous and radioactive nature of wastewater should preclude its use on New York roads.
Oil and gas wastewater contains up to 300 distinct chemicals, including known carcinogens like benzene and naturally-occurring radioactive materials like radium-226, radium-228, and radon. Rain or snowmelt can often wash wastewater off of roads, causing chemicals to leach into the ground and pollute local water supplies. Given that many highways run alongside water bodies, groundwater sources, and wetlands and marshes, the spreading of oil and gas wastewater puts our drinking water at risk.
In 2017, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) finalized revised regulations regarding solid waste management. These regulations, however, fell short of a full ban on road spreading of oil and gas wastewater. This legislation would finish the job where DEC left off, adding the necessary protections to keep our water clean and New Yorkers healthy.
As of 2017, 15 counties across New York have banned the spreading of oil and gas wastewater on roads. The State should do its part and follow suit, as a good first step to ultimately banning the presence of fracking waste in New York.
This bill amends the environmental conservation law to prohibit use of drilling fluids, brine, and flowback water from wells, pools or fields on any highway.