The use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract shale gas poses risks to drinking water, human health and safety as well as the well-being of people in affected communities. Contaminated water wells near drilling pads in Pennsylvania contain levels of shale gas that are flammable and can be explosive. Radioactivity, heavy metals and toxic chemicals in the shale contaminate wastewater that flows back to the surface after fracking. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently found industrial fracking chemicals and carcinogenic benzene as contaminants in well water aquifers near drilling pads.
Fracking wastewater had been treated and discharged into Pennsylvania rivers until contaminants were identified downstream. Some wastewater was also dumped illegally in Pennsylvania streams and forests. Wastewater had been treated in Buffalo, but that is now prohibited to protect drinking water. The gas industry is seeking to treat fracking wastewater in Niagara Falls, risking pollution of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario and contamination of drinking water in the U.S. and Canada (for earlier blog posts on fracking, click here).
This 1 minute video conveys more concerns about fracking:
Many citizens and politicians want to ban fracking and fracking waste. Urge Governor Cuomo and Senator Grisanti to prohibit fracking and fracking waste in New York.
First, write a letter to Governor Cuomo on your own or with the help of an online Letterwriter. The Letterwriter contains written text about a number of the following key issues associated with fracking and fracking waste:
air pollution resulting from fracking operations
potential contamination of public water supplies
disposal of radioactive wastewater
possible spills of toxic chemicals
my child with asthma
heavy truck traffic on back country roads
effects on tourism
effects on agriculture
Simply select any one or more key issues, and the text will be inserted into your letter and can be modified. Add your own personal comments as well. The online Letterwriter is at A Million Fracking Letters writer.
Your letter to Governor Cuomo will be printed and delivered to his office on your behalf, and a copy will be emailed to you.
Second, and Easy! Another way that you can contact Governor Cuomo is to Phone his office at 518-474-8390. Simply urge the Governor to prohibit fracking and fracking waste in New York State.
Third, Easy and Important: Send a brief email message to Senator Mark Grisanti, head of the Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation. Simply ask him to support bill S4220 to ban fracking and all fracking waste. You can email Senator Grisanti here and phone his office at 877-796-1949.
The Restoration Advisory Board* is conducting a Public Survey regarding the following question and related issues:
QUESTION: Should the Federal Government create a permanent radioactive disposal facility in Lewiston, NY?
BACKGROUND: Provided by the Restoration Advisory Board The Lake Ontario Ordnance Works (LOOW) consists of approximately 7,500 acres of land, located in the Towns of Lewiston and Porter, NY acquired by the federal government in the early 1940’s. The “Developed Area” (see Map) of the LOOW was used for military weapons production-related operations started during WWII.
Today, the federal government no longer owns the LOOW properties, with the exception of a National Guard Weekend Training Site, and the Niagara Falls Storage Site (NFSS, see Map).
The Niagara Falls Storage Site still houses radioactive waste material from atomic weapons production in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Residues are so radioactive, they must be handled remotely by equipment rather than humans. If left in place, the NFSS radioactive residues would pose a major environmental/health hazard to the Niagara region for thousands of years.
The Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of determining whether to remove some or all of the radioactive residues and wastes from the Niagara Falls Storage Site, and what standard of clean up the NFSS should undergo.
PUBLIC SURVEY: Please visit the LOOW-RAB Website, and select answers to the 3 questions provided.
*The Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) is a
forum for the public and all stakeholders for the exchange of
information as well as open and independent dialogue concerning the
environmental investigation and remediation activities at the Lake
Ontario Ordnance Works.
The United States isn't broke. But the truth is, our economy is broken, producing more pollution, greenhouse gasses and garbagethan any other country. But rather than invest in something better, we continue to keep this 'dinosaur economy' on life support with hundreds of billions of dollars of our tax money.
"The Story of Broke" calls for a shift in government spending toward investments in clean, green solutions—renewable energy, safer chemicals, zero wasteand more—that can deliver jobs AND a healthier environment.
It's time to rebuild the American Dream; but this time, let's build it better. Watch this Video:
I recently started working for the Health Care Coordinating Committee (HCCC) of the CWA - Communications Workers of America. The CWA has endorsed the Occupy movement, and one of my first tasks has been to help organize a benefit for Occupy Buffalo.
of your courageous and motivated neighbors are going to be spending a
very cold winter in Niagara Square raising economic justice issues that
are important to all of us.
We are holding a Benefit on Sunday, December 4th
from 6pm-9pm at the Pearl Street Grill to help keep them fed, supported, and as warm
as possible as they struggle to confront injustice.
[Click image to enlarge]
Can you help us with this Benefit? A few ways are open to you ...
We're holding an organizing meeting on Tuesday November 29 from 5:30 to 7:00 PM. We'd love to have you at the meeting to
help with the logistics and outreach for the benefit. The meetings will be at CWA Local 1168,
upstairs at 505 Delaware Ave in Buffalo (between Allen and Virginia).
2. If you can't make the meetings, but would like to help, please
Send the FLIER to everyone on your email list who might want to know about the benefit or post a printed copy in a public place
Talk the benefit up wherever you go
Post the information on the benefit to your website, blog and/or facebook page
Print out copies of the hand bill (2-sided), cut them in half and give them out wherever you like
If you'd like to sell tickets and can't make it to the meeting, call Bill Nowak at the office 716-824-2042 or cell 716-316-7674
3. Please make sure you contribute financially if you
can. We want a huge turnout for the benefit, but if you can't make it,
please donate via mail. Any amount would be appreciated - $99, $49.50,
$24.75, $9.90 - whatever you can spare to support this vital movement.
Checks can be made out to CWA HCCC, with Occupy Buffalo in the memo line.
Mail to: CWA HCCC, Attention: Bill Nowak, 821 Elk St, SuiteB, Buffalo, NY 14210
4. Stop in and connect at a General Assembly
in Niagara Square. They're held every Saturday at Noon.
To read an online report about Occupy Buffalo in The Buffalo News, click here.
At a public meeting of the Niagara Falls Water Board on October 27, the third meeting in two months, speakers again raised concern about the Board's proposal to accept, treat and discharge hydro-fracking wastewater derived from shale-gas drilling into the Niagara River. Wastewater from hydro-fracking (a.k.a. fracking) contains chemicals added before drilling as well as toxic and radioactive chemicals extracted from shale. Wastewater is pumped back to the surface into exposed pits [see image], and then pumped into trucks for transport to other sites for treatment. Treatment facilities in Pennsylvania, where drilling is ongoing, have proven ineffective in removing all chemicals, some of which are known to cause cancer and other health problems. Also, brine, far more salty than ocean water, can corrode treatment facility equipment and has turned up in drinking water.
The Niagara Gazette reported that Water Board Chairman Michael McNally informed the speakers at the public meeting of the Board’s position of not accepting hydro-fracking or any wastewater associated with it.
“The Board’s position is we are not accepting anything relating to hydro-fracking or any of its spoils,” he said. “But we appreciate your input as it gives us more information to work with."
In a followup report on the October 27 meeting, Water Board Executive Director Paul Drof clarified the Board's position on fracking wastewater. “Right now, no facility in New York state is permitted to accept fracking wastewater,” he said. “Their edict is there is no one approved to take fracking water, so no one does. It’s not illegal because no one does it.”
“The treatment of trucked-in waste has been done in Niagara Falls over the last 20 years,” he said. “It’s something we do routinely. This is just another candidate for treatment. That’s all it is at this point.” Drof added that public input on the matter is appreciated as it gives the Board more insight into what actions they’ll take later.
Canadians are also concerned about the possibility that fracking wastewater would be treated in Niagara Falls, NY, since the Niagara River borders their country and drains into Lake Ontario, which is a source of drinking water for millions of people in Canada.
The Council of Canadians sent a letter to the Water Board requesting they scrap the fracking wastewater proposal to protect the Great Lake. The Council is also advocating that the town council of Niagara-on-the-Lake take action to protect the Great Lakes Basin. A town councilor will introduce a resolution today calling for a
moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and the treatment of fracking
wastewater within the Great Lakes Basin.
An association of mayors on both sides of the Great Lakes is tracking the issue. "The position we've taken so far, until we get more information, is that nothing be done in terms of the hydro-fracking that could in any way contaminate the lakes, the St. Lawrence basin and the underground aquifers," said St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan, who chairs the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.
A Niagara Falls Water Board spokesman said the Board is waiting for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to bring down rules on drilling shale and fracking water treatment. He added that it's not clear if the treatment plant
will need costly upgrades to handle the fracking water, and it's
possible the venture will be too expensive to pursue.
Permitting by the DEC was intended originally to begin in early
2012 but it was further delayed last week. DEC Commissioner Joe Martens raised doubts that the state will be ready to issue permits next year. Martens said the Governor's Advisory Panel on High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing will miss its planned report deadline since they still have no estimates on what resources will be needed by four major state agencies: Health, Transportation, Agriculture & Markets, and Public Service.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only just begun developing national standards for treating wastewater discharged from gas drilling. They propose to complete the rules by 2014, and the time for passage into law is uncertain. Also, the discharge of treated water into the Niagara River, and other rivers that flow into the Great Lakes, creates a need for international agreements between the U.S. and Canada, which may extend the time frame even further.
So even if treating fracking wastewater at Niagara Falls were found to be feasible, affordable and safe, and even if a massive transportation plan could be developed to move billions of gallons of the hazardous wastewater to Niagara Falls, it could be a long time before the plan is actually carried out, if ever.
The agencies involved should not be rushed. They need to allow plenty of time for investigations, deliberations, and input from the public. The gas will still be there. The safety of our drinking water and the protection public health must come first, and they are unquestionably worth the time.
For earlier posts about Fracking at Re-ENERGIZE BUFFALO, click here.
A public meeting will be held on Thursday, October 27.
The city of Niagara Falls is home to world-famous waterfalls as well as to a well-known, hazardous-waste disaster that occurred in the Love Canal neighborhood.
The Niagara Falls Water Board is exploring the possibility of cleaning up chemically-tainted wastewater derived from unconventional gas drilling using the process of horizontal, hydraulic fracturing, also called hydrofracking or simply fracking. However, critics are concerned that the treatment may not remove all of the hazardous waste and that the discharge would pollute the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, which are sources of drinking water.
The Niagara Falls Water Board (NFWB), encouraged by a feasibility study by an outside group, seeks to increase profits by making use of their industrial waste treatment facility, which is currently underutilized. The Board stated that "...treating wastewater from Marcellus Shale would provide the NFWB with a significant opportunity to increase revenues, provide financial stability to our organization and stabilize our rate structure over the long term, all to the benefit of NFWB ratepayers."
At a public meeting on September 22, citizens recalled the hazardous waste contamination at Love Canal in Niagara Falls, and indicated that the Water Board's new venture could be another environmental disaster in the making. Fracking wastewater includes not only chemicals added by the drilling industry, but also brine and well as toxic and radioactive chemicals extracted from the shale. In general, treatment facilities are not equipped to remove all of these chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic.
Lois Gibbs, a resident of Love Canal in the 1970's, led successfully the battle to convince NY state officials, the U.S. government and the public that hazardous chemicals buried nearby were causing health problems and birth defects.
In an interview about the Water Board's new venture, Gibbs wondered if city officials would ever learn. “They’re moving away from the chemical industry because the chemical industry is moving away from them, and it’s time to start a new economy,” Gibbs said by phone Thursday from Falls Church, Va., where she’s executive director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. “And the new economy is certainly not taking chemical waste.”
“We should be learning from past mistakes instead of risking our water so we can accept New York state’s hydrofracking waste,” said Rita Yelda, an organizer for Food and Water Watch, an environmental advocacy group. Yelda and a coalition of local opponents sent questions to the Niagara Falls Water Board, and attended a Board meeting on October 20th seeking answers about the potential environmental impacts, possible impacts on human health, and other issues. The Board has yet to provide answers to those questions. A TV interview with Rita Yelda is here.
New York, which is currently under a drilling moratorium, is not the only possible source of fracking wastewater. The gas drilling industry in Pennsylvania, which has been heavily engaged in fracking since 2008, has polluted rivers by passing wastewater through sewage and industrial treatment plants and is now looking for new disposal sites. Disposal of wastewater from Pennsylvania at the Buffalo sewage treatment plant occurred earlier but is no longer permitted.
Richard Roll, the director of technical and regulatory services at the Water Board, said "Since we do have a unique kind of wastewater treatment plant that's very much under-loaded, we're looking into the possibility that, with the addition of other treatment processes, maybe our plant would be much more amenable to accepting this waste than your typical municipal biological plant."
A recent report indicated that the Niagara Falls Water Board is poised to accept fracking wastewater from Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York for treatment and discharge into the Niagara River. The Board has hired a public relations firm to promote the venture and has apparently been working with the Cuomo administration to develop a massive transportation plan.
The Niagara River flows into Lake Ontario, the source of drinking water for millions of people in the U.S. and Canada. Their drinking water could be at risk if the Niagara Falls Water Board moves forward with its plans. The Council of Canadians, a social and environmental justice organization, sent a letter to the Niagara Falls Water Board concluding that "Given the significant risk posed to the Great Lakes by this proposal, we ask that you scrap it in order to protect the Great Lakes Basin for current and future generations."
Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated that it will develop standards for disposing wastewater from the shale-gas drilling process. The EPA stated that many treatment plants are not properly equipped to treat such wastewater, and indicated that it would consider standards required to be met before water can be sent to a treatment facility. The rules will be proposed by 2014. If passed, the rules would be among the first federal regulations directed at potential water contamination by fracking waste. The Niagara Falls Water Board will hold a public meeting on Thursday, October 27th at 5pm in the Water Treatment Plant, 5815 Buffalo Ave,
Niagara Falls, NY [MAP]. Concerned citizens are encouraged to attend. Those who wish to speak should sign up before the meeting.
Guest post by Rita Yelda, WNY Drilling Defense, and Food & Water Watch
In July, the Niagara Falls Water Board was reported to be exploring the
possibility of treating wastewater containing toxic chemicals resulting
from the unconventional shale gas drilling known as fracking. Yet there
is little evidence that the Niagara Falls Water Treatment Plant can
filter out the radiation or the chemicals found in fracking wastewater,
and no analysis of the possible impacts of treating this wastewater has
been shared with the public.
Fracking fluid consists primarily of water, sand and a cocktail of
chemicals that includes many toxins and known carcinogens: methanol,
ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, napthalene, benzene, toluene and xylene.
To date, 600+ chemicals have been used in fracking fluid. The
fracking process has also been known to release radioactive elements
into the waste, such as radon and uranium. The New York Department of
Environmental Conservation (DEC) figures show 6.6 billion gallons of
fracking waste would have to be disposed of each year.
Niagara Falls is the first location in New York to state their desire to
treat this waste. A report issued in September indicated that an
outside firm has completed a feasibility study and that the Water Board
is moving forward with the plan to treat fracking wastewater. Water from
the treatment plant would be released into the Niagara River, which
flows into Niagara Falls, Lake Ontario, and other Great Lakes
communities, creating potential regional and even international concern.
The Council of Canadians released a letter to the Niagara Falls Water
Board asking them to not accept the waste as it poses a threat to the
Great Lakes. In Pennsylvania, where hydrofracking is happening in full
force, the Department of Environmental Protection asked the gas industry
to stop taking fracking wastewater to municipal wastewater treatment
plants, after concerning levels of radioactive compounds were detected
in the state's waterways.
The Niagara Falls Water Board will hold their next monthly public
meeting on Thursday, October 20 at 5pm in the Water Treatment
Plant, 5815 Buffalo Ave, Niagara Falls, NY [MAP]. Western New Yorkers will
raise their voices on Thursday with a chorus calling out for answers
about their health and their water. Those who wish to speak should sign
up before the meeting.
Questions presented a month ago still remain unanswered.
194 countries are meeting in Panama at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the last opportunity to reach a consensus on the reduction of carbon emissions before the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durbin, South Africa later this year.
Conference participants must win another commitment period for reducing carbon
emissions from developed countries to prevent global
average temperatures from rising more than two degrees, which scientists have indicated would
have catastrophic consequences for human life.
emissions must peak by 2015, according to scientists who fear that otherwise, damage from climate
change will become irreversible with rising floods, droughts and other
The United States, currently the world's second-largest carbon emitter, was the only
nation to reject the Kyoto Protocol, under the administration of President George W. Bush. The Kyoto agreement expires at the end of 2012.
The U.S. has held that it
would only accept an agreement that includes all major countries. "We
could consider it only if it's genuinely binding with respect to all the
major players, whether developed or developing, including China and
others," said Todd Stern, the top U.S. climate negotiator.
President Obama faces strong opposition on
climate change from the Republican Party, many of whose members do not believe that human activity is causing rising temperatures.
Why is the U.N. Climate Conference important?
Below are seven reasons to keep working towards an international climate agreement:
1) It's urgent
2) It will create long-term certainty for business investment 3) It will be more economically efficient for countries to do it all together 4) Collective action is needed 5) Unpopular decisions may be more palatable if other countries are taking them as well 6) Who will otherwise pay for adaptation? 7) We are morally obligated The full article is here.
What if actions to greatly reduce carbon emissions are not taken? A bipartisan panel of scientists, former government officials and national security experts is recommending that the U.S. government begin researching a radical fix: directly manipulating the Earth’s climate to lower the temperature.
Examples of methods to achieve such "climate remediation" include seeding the atmosphere with reflective particles, launching giant mirrors above the earth or spewing ocean water into the air to form clouds.
The idea of intentionally tinkering with the Earth's climate is shocking and seems potentially dangerous. As a member of the bipartisan panel said, “It should be shocking.”
Climate remediation research is already under way in Britain, Germany and possibly other countries, as well as in the private sector. Read more about this in the NY Times.
We know that a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy is key to greatly reducing carbon emissions. A global agreement that includes the U.S. is needed to begin to deal with the scale of the problem.
The tour is FREE, self guided, and open to the public. We give you the addresses, you choose the ones you want to see. Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Green LEED buildings, Bale on Bale, Net Zero - you name it, we have it on the tour. Kickoff Awards Party will occur from 10am-11am at the Innovation Center, 640 Ellicott St. in Buffalo on the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus [MAP].
There will awards given to highlight solar & green buildings as well as refreshments and prizes for those in attendance. Workshops will held be at Innovation Center from 11am-1pm. 11am-11:30 - Gary Carrell, NYSERDA, energy efficiency 11:30 - 12 - Wind Action Group, Wind in Buffalo 12 - 12:30 - Geothermal 101 12:30 - 1pm - Solar Liberty, Solar 101 TOUR over 40 Solar and Green Buildings at locations
throughout Western New York. Open from 10am-4pm.