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Don't Frack With NYNotes from Our Fracking Campaign

New York’s Fracking Waste Problem

Photo: WVSORO

UPDATE

- Further review shows that road spreading of natural gas production brine has been approved for use in portions of at least 23 municipalities in 7 western New York counties: Wyoming, Erie, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Genessee, Niagara, and Seneca. Road spreading of natural gas brine from natural gas storage has been approved in at least 10 municipalities in 2 western New York Counties: Allegany and Steuben. In addition, the New York State Department of Transportation Region 6 received approval to spread what appears to be brine from natural gas storage on state roads in portions of Steuben, Allegany, Chemung, Schuyler, and Yates Counties.

Please see: The Facts about New York and Fracking Waste.
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Even though the de facto moratorium on high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing in New York State continues, the disposal of waste from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations is occurring in New York now and deserves our attention. The extraction of natural gas using fracking produces large amounts of liquid and solid waste that can contain a number of harmful pollutants, including salts (sometimes expressed as total dissolved solids or TDS); chemical additives, which may include ethylene glycol, naphthalene, and sulfuric acid; metals; organic compounds; and other contaminants. Fracking waste from extraction activities in the Marcellus Shale can also contain naturally-occurring radioactive materials (NORMs) such as radium-226 and radium-228.

In July 2013, Riverkeeper wrote to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and requested information about one method of handling fracking waste that New York is currently allowing: the use of production brine from conventional, low-volume fracking on New York roads for de-icing, dust control, and road stabilization. Specifically, we asked the agency to provide information regarding its approvals – known as Beneficial Use Determinations or BUDs – of the use of natural gas production brine for road spreading from June 2011 to July 2013.

In its response, NYSDEC indicated that its records did not differentiate between brine from different well types: “The records may reflect brine originating from oil extraction wells as well as natural gas extraction wells.” As a result, even though we only requested information regarding natural gas production brine BUDs, we received BUDs from other sources as well. In all we received copies of nearly 30 BUDs and modifications, 18 of which approve the for use of natural gas brine for road spreading purpose. Of the 18 natural gas brine BUDs, 11 appear to authorize road spreading of brine from natural gas storage facilities, while 7 authorize road spreading of production brine from natural gas wells. Of the remaining approved BUDs, 1 indicated that the brine was from oil wells, while the type of brine for the balance was not identified.

The results were concerning. The natural gas well brine BUDs indicated that the road spreading of natural gas production brine has been approved in at least 23 municipalities in 7 western New York counties: Wyoming, Erie, Cattaraugus, Chautaugua, Genessee, Niagara, and Seneca. Road spreading of natural gas brine from natural gas storage has been approved in at least 10 municipalities in 2 western New York counties: Allegany and Steuben. In addition, the New York State Department of Transportation Region 6 received approval to spread what appears to be brine from natural gas storage on state roads in portions of Steuben, Allegany, Chemung, Schuyler, and Yates Counties.

Riverkeeper also received testing information that was submitted with requests for the BUDs. A review of these brine testing results from both natural gas production brine and brine from natural gas storage facilities showed extremely high levels of chloride. Chloride can corrode infrastructure and negatively affect aquatic life and vegetation. In addition, results submitted with requests for BUDs for brine from natural gas storage facilities revealed the presence of benzene and toluene. Benzene is a carcinogen and has been linked to blood disorders such as anemia, while toluene has been linked to nervous system, kidney, and liver problems.

In addition to road spreading, we are concerned about disposal of fracking waste at New York landfills and wastewater treatment facilities that are unequipped to handle it. At least 10 New York counties share those concerns and have passed legislative bans on the improper re-use and/or disposal of fracking waste. For information on the types of fracking waste disposed of in New York, documents we received from NYSDEC, counties that have passed fracking waste bans, and resources for information on fracking waste, please visit our new web resource: The Facts about New York and Fracking Waste.


  • chillin granny

    NO…NO…NO… this needs to be addressed before it becomes common practice, if not already. We can’t keep allowing this to happen.STOP FRACKING FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR EARTH.

  • Joe Wiseman

    These companies will poison the water table
    without remorse – Please share the song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v283MunuZaE&feature=share&list=UUK637I8lHwNuxUk39J6sgIA

  • Don

    Yes, chloride can and does corrode infrastructure and negatively affect aquatic life and vegetation, and we should be concerned about that. But we should also recognize that what we’re talking about in the case of chloride here is salt, as in sodium chloride.

    While it is coming from gas and oil wells it is also ultimately coming from the same source that the road salt used all over New York State is coming – the warm shallow sea that covered most of what is now Upstate New York hundreds of millions of years ago. In that sea, the much that became the Marcellus Shale was deposited. In the same warm shallow sea (at a different time) the layers of rock salt that are mined near Ithaca, Geneseo and Watkins Glen were deposited.

    This post reads as if chloride in question is a scarier thing than road salt. The benzene and the toluene are, but the salt doesn’t have any different impacts than road salt. It reads like scare-mongering, and like you don’t understand that the sodium comes from the same source as the road salt that’s been used for generations.

    And, again, that doesn’t mean that road salt is environmentally benign – it’s not. But don’t make the briny part of the brine seem scary than road salt.

  • http://www.whatsthebigidea.com whatsthebigidea.com

    Don, fear-mongering is used when there nothing to fear. Chloride spread on roads is very destructive to our infrusture and environment. In comparison to radioactivity, toulene and benzene chloride is the lesser evil but still remains an unacceptable risk to our health. Dont dismiss the message, because the facts remain: fracking brine is toxic waste and should NOT be disposed of on our roadways.

  • AYFKM

    Another atrocity in the making due to corporate greed vs a society of sheeple. Of course salt, brine or whatever you term it, is not the point. Knowingly spreading carcinogens across the landscape is just the latest in a litany of human failures. The majority of sociopaths responsible for this crap will never have to live with the ramifications, but the fact that local municipal empty suits are allowing this to happen is incomprehensible. I can only hope nature selectively picks them for the incubation of cancers upon them and their families. Then, let’s see if the “payoff” was worth it.

  • Paul Bodnick

    Pleas join us on Face Book: No Fracking Way

  • cf

    what the fuck did you think would happen! dumb ass’ .
    seriously. all actions have consequences. pumping chemicals into the ground? yeah thats sounds like a great idea $

  • Hugh Kimball

    You should also know that about 10 counties have banned the use of produced brine or gas well waste. Those counties include Westchester, Putnam, Oneida, and most recently Onondaga.

  • b p m

    All Folks, I had no idea of ALL that fracking does. Live in SW PA
    Family in NE PA
    where fracking is common place.
    I am not a dummy, just dumbfounded.
    Probably because I have NOT researched in the Right places.
    There is presently 1 missing man and another hurt 15 miles from me because of a gas explosion in which they have NO idea why it happened.
    A concerned passed-farmer’s daughter who no longer lives on a farm. THAT IS ME !!!
    Thx for all you do, Folks. There are ‘both sides’ as they say, but……………………. I will research much more

  • Danielle

    There are waste management facilities like http://www.tsdfservices.com which handles the disposal of hazardous materials that may be detrimental to our environment and health. We must not also forget that our simple waste segregation practices even at home matter a lot.

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