Despite the recent historic ban on high-volume fracking, New York still has a fracking waste problem. More than 510,000 tons and 23,000 barrels – and counting – of waste from oil and gas extraction operations in neighboring Pennsylvania have been shipped to New York landfills for disposal. Leachate from those landfills is then sent to nearby wastewater treatment facilities. And New York State continues to allow the use of certain kinds of waste from low-volume oil and gas extraction on our roads for de-icing and dust control.
Fracking waste can contain a number of pollutants, such as chemicals, metals, excess salts, and carcinogens like benzene and naturally-occurring radioactive materials. Due to a loophole in state law, oil and gas industry waste is exempt from hazardous waste requirements, meaning that – no matter what it contains – fracking waste is not classified as hazardous. This “hazardous waste loophole” also means that fracking waste can be disposed of at facilities unequipped to handle it, and in ways that can put our health and environment at risk.
Recognizing the potential harms, New York communities are taking action. At least 15 counties across the state have enacted measures prohibiting the improper reuse and disposal of fracking waste. These include Suffolk and Westchester Counties, which contain home districts of State Senate leaders John Flanagan and Jeff Klein. Most recently, Albany and Tompkins Counties joined the list with two of the most comprehensive fracking waste laws in the state.
Now it’s time for the state legislature to act. Senator Avella and Assemblyman Englebright have introduced a bill that would close the hazardous waste loophole and end the exemption that allows the oil and gas industry to avoid New York State hazardous waste requirements. With this year’s legislative session rapidly coming to an end, we need our state leaders to take immediate action to pass this bill.
Join us: Monday, June 8 at 1:00pm ET for a webinar cohosted by Riverkeeper and the NYS Sustainable Council to discuss New York’s fracking waste problem, its impacts on NY business, and what you can do to protect your community. Register now!
For more information about New York and fracking waste, including a list of county bans, visit The Facts about New York and Fracking Waste.