Bill Memo: Stop the Spread of Toxic Waste
This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law to prohibit the use of drilling fluids, brine, and flowback water from oil and gas wells, pools, or fields on any highway as defined in the Transportation Law.
This legislation bans the spreading of liquid oil and gas waste on public roads. The toxic and radioactive nature of this wastewater should preclude its use as a deicer or dust suppressant on New York’s roads.
Wastewater from fracking as well as conventional oil and gas operations can contain up to 300 distinct chemicals, including known carcinogens like benzene and radioactive materials like radium. When oil and gas wastewater is spread on roads, rain or snowmelt can sweep it into our environment and cause contaminants to leach into the soil and pollute local water supplies. Given that many roads run alongside rivers, lakes, and groundwater sources, the spreading of oil and gas wastewater puts our drinking water at risk.
In Western New York and the Southern Tier, there are over 30 towns and villages with active permits, issued since 2016, to spread oil and gas wastewater on roads. These active uses pose a serious threat to the water quality of the three major watersheds that converge in the area: the Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, and Chesapeake Bay watersheds.
In 2017, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued revised regulations regarding solid waste management, which 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 necessary protections to protect public health.
At least 15 counties across New York have recognized the danger of this toxic and radioactive substance and have banned the road spreading of oil and gas waste. This legislation will rightfully extend these protections to every New Yorker statewide.
Environmental Advocates NY Bill Rating: Substantial Benefit
Memo #: 9