Riverkeeper has spent the past seven years providing New Yorkers with information and resources to help shape the debate about the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract natural gas from deep underground deposits.
In June 2015, the multi-year environmental review of the impacts of fracking on groundwater and the environment came to an end. At the conclusion of the review, New York State banned high-volume fracking.
Despite the recent fracking ban, New York State remains vulnerable to the wastes produced by oil and gas extraction technologies. In fact, more than 510,000 tons of solid waste and 23,000 barrels of liquid waste – and counting – from oil and gas extraction operations in neighboring Pennsylvania have been shipped to New York landfills for disposal.
In response to these new public health and safety challenges, Riverkeeper has developed the Fracking Waste Toolkit. The purpose of the toolkit is to inform and to assist citizens and local groups across New York that are taking action to safeguard their communities. Since 2012, Riverkeeper has worked to support local level fracking waste bans. Thus far, 15 New York counties have prohibited the use of fracking waste on roads, acceptance at wastewater treatment facilities, and/or disposal in landfills.
There are many possible ways that fracking wastes can enter communities in New York. When placed in landfills, contaminants from the fracking waste can mix with rainwater and collect in the form of liquid material. This leachate is then sent to nearby wastewater treatment facilities. Other possible routes to communities in New York State include the practice of using certain kinds of wastes from low-volume oil and gas extraction and natural gas storage on our roads for de-icing and dust control.
In the absence of state level action on fracking waste, our toolkit provides important information to inform communities regarding options they have when faced with the potential for fracking waste to enter their neighborhoods. The toolkit provides a wealth of information including:
Together, the toolkit provides citizens and local groups with information they can use when deciding whether to take action on fracking waste in their communities.
Specifically, the toolkit includes factsheets and handouts that citizens can use to share information. It also includes a copy of Riverkeeper’s model fracking waste legislation. We also provide links to interactive maps, along with copies of all of the 15 county level fracking waste bans.
There is also a link to our recent webinar with the New York State Sustainable Business Council on how the improper reuse and disposal of fracking waste affects New York businesses.