Thursday, October 13, 2011

Public Meeting: Plan to treat Fracking Waste at Niagara Falls

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.

For more information, contact or call 716-507-2077

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