Bill Memo: Banning Fracking Waste

Beneficial rating

Summary

This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law to direct the Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt regulations to prohibit the disposal of high-volume hydraulic fracturing waste in solid waste management facilities and wastewater treatment facilities.

Explanation

When the process of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) was banned in June 2015, many assumed that the hazardous waste associated with the process would no longer be a threat for New Yorkers. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

New York continues to accept waste from out-of-state fracking operations. As of 2017, New York landfills had accepted at least 609,000 tons and 23,000 barrels of fracking waste from Pennsylvania drilling operations, putting both ground water and surface water at risk. This legislation prohibits high-volume fracking waste from being disposed of in solid waste management facilities and wastewater treatment plants.

Over 300 different chemicals have been reported to be used in fracking operations that can be found in the waste, including, but not limited to benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde. Many of these chemicals are known or suspected carcinogens. Fracking waste may also contain naturally occurring corrosive salts, heavy metals, and radioactive materials.

Most treatment plants do not have the technology to remove many of these dangerous chemicals from wastewater, meaning these toxic substances could end up in our rivers and streams, and in some cases, could end up in New Yorkers’ drinking water sources. This bill takes an important step to prevent this from happening.

Environmental Advocates NY Bill Rating: Beneficial

Memo #: 22