This bill closes New York’s gaping hazardous waste loophole – a loophole in state law and regulations that allows waste produced by some industries to escape testing, tracking, and safety standards applied to oil and gas waste that meets the current legal definition of ‘hazardous.’
The oil and gas industry is one such industry exempt from New York State laws governing hazardous waste transport and disposal, even though a great deal of the wastewater generated by dirty gas drilling (“fracking”) meets the state definition of hazardous. During the Department of Environmental Conservation’s recent rulemaking process (6 NYCRR Part 360) on solid waste management, the Department neglected to close this egregious loophole.
Although New York State has banned the practice, New York has received, and continues to receive, waste from fracking operations in Pennsylvania. As of 2017, New York landfills have accepted at least 609,000 tons and 23,000 barrels of fracking waste, and there are landfills looking to accept more of this waste in the coming years. This bill ensures that fracking waste brought into New York for processing is handled properly, and managed under the most stringent public health, safety, and environmental standards.
Benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde are known or suspected human cancer agents and are also common ingredients found in fracking waste along with naturally occurring corrosive salts, heavy metals, and radioactive materials. Fracking waste that enters local sewage treatment plants or landfills — sometimes with radiation levels hundreds of times above the safe limits for drinking water — could go right back into the rivers and streams that supply water to millions of people.
Closing the hazardous waste loophole for oil and gas waste ensures hazardous fracking waste doesn’t enter our landfills, municipal water treatment plants and waterways.
This bill makes all hazardous waste produced from oil and gas drilling subject to the same regulations for hazardous waste generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal that apply to other industries operating in New York.