Today, Council Members Stephen Levin and Corey Johnson are introducing legislation that would ban the discharge, disposal, sale or use of any wastewater or natural gas waste produced by hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking. The legislation, Introduction 853, will be formally introduced at today’s stated meeting of the New York City Council.
The process of hydraulic fracturing produces millions of gallons of wastewater that is often laced with toxic chemicals, including highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other chemicals that include carcinogenic materials are also commonly added to wastewater during the hydrofracking process. These chemicals pose significant health and environmental risks.
The legislation would prevent hydrofracking waste from being treated at wastewater treatment plants in New York City. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection owns and operates 14 wastewater treatment plants and there are also a number of privately owned wastewater treatment plans that operate within the City of New York. These facilities release effluent back into the surface water throughout the City and it is important that it be free of the dangerous contaminants found in hydrofracking waste. Additionally, the legislation would prevent wastewater and other waste products produced from hydrofracking from being used during deicing and snow removal.
“Hydrofracking waste is highly toxic and doesn’t belong in any of the five boroughs,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “With this legislation we can keep this toxic waste out of New York City and send a clear message that we are opposed to fracking in our state. Millions of gallons of wastewater filled with toxic chemicals are produced from fracking and my hope is that every locality throughout New York will introduce and pass similar bans. I want to thank Council Member Johnson and all of the environmental advocates who stand together in opposition to fracking waste in New York City.”
Council Member Corey Johnson said, “Extracting natural gas by fracking creates a tremendous amount of toxic waste and we must ensure its disposal or alternative use does not endanger our city” said Council Member Corey Johnson “This legislation will prevent the sale, use, or dumping of the waste from fracking in New York City. While hydro-fracking should be banned outright in New York State, it is important to put protections in place while the process is still in legal limbo.”
“Toxic, radioactive waste is the dirty underbelly of the fracking process, and it certainly has no place in New York City. We need to do what our neighbors on Long Island and upstate have already done, and protect ourselves by banning fracking waste once and for all,” said Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Region director at the advocacy group Food & Water Watch. “We’re working hard to get this waste ban enacted, and we’re grateful for Councilmen Levin and Johnson’s leadership on this critical issue.”
“Riverkeeper applauds the important step that New York City is taking today to protect New York City residents from the improper reuse and disposal of fracking waste, an action that more than a dozen counties across the state have also taken to safeguard the health and environment of their citizens,” said Misti Duvall, Staff Attorney at Riverkeeper. “We urge the City Council to pass strong legislation as soon as possible.”