Sunday, February 15, 2015


Despite Fracking Ban, New Yorkers Saddled with 
Radioactive Fracking Waste

New report lifts the veil on how NYS has enabled Pennsylvania to dump more than 460,000 tons of fracking waste inside our borders.

Albany – A new report from Environmental Advocates of New York sheds light on the practice of potentially radioactive out-of-state fracking waste getting dumped in New York despite Governor Cuomo’s ongoing implementation of a ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

“Fracking wastes are notoriously toxic and radioactive,” said Liz Moran, water and natural resources associate, and report author. “Despite knowing the public health concerns, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) enables New York landfills to accept Pennsylvania’s fracking waste with little oversight. If fracking isn’t safe for New Yorkers, then waste from other states’ fracking operations isn’t safe for New Yorkers either.”

Key Concerns

To date, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reports that at least 460,000 tons of solid fracking waste and 23,000 barrels of liquid waste have been dumped in seven New York landfills. Comparatively, the DEC says the state does not accept this type of waste.

  • In 2013, radiation detectors in Pennsylvania were triggered more than 1000 times by the same kind of fracking waste accepted by New York, signaling dangerous levels of radiation – while not a single radioactive detector was set off by New York landfills.
  • Leachate (toxins from solid waste that leach into collection pools) from landfills ends up in New York’s wastewater treatment plants, none of which are capable of ridding water of radiation or other dangerous chemicals.
  • The DEC has failed to implement standardized oversight, regulation or testing, and has fallen far short of the strong public health safeguards that guided the state Department of Health’s fracking review.
Read more at Environmental Advocates of New York

See also an earlier report, Fracking Waste: A Radioactive Legacy for New York? 

New - and Worrisome - Contaminants Emerge from 
Oil and Gas Wells

Researchers find alarming levels of ammonium and iodide in fracking wastewater released into Pennsylvania and West Virginia streams.

Two hazardous chemicals never before known as oil and gas industry pollutants – ammonium and iodide – are being released into Pennsylvania and West Virginia waterways from the booming energy operations of the Marcellus shale, a new study shows.

Treatment plants were never designed to handle these contaminants.

The toxic substances, which can have a devastating impact on fish, ecosystems, and potentially, human health, are extracted from geological formations along with natural gas and oil during both hydraulic fracturing and conventional drilling operations, said Duke University scientists in a study published today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The chemicals then are making their way into streams and rivers, both accidentally and through deliberate release from treatment plants that were never designed to handle these contaminants, the researchers said.


New Report: Oil and Gas Industry using Flawed Research to Promote Fracking

BUFFALO, NY – The oil and gas industry is using flawed research to give the impression of a scientific consensus that fracking is safe and beneficial, according to a new report released today by the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI).

The report, titled “Frackademia in Depth,” assesses over 130 studies that the industry has put forward to help make the scientific case for fracking, analyzing them for the strength of their industry ties and their relative academic quality (whether they were peer-reviewed).

PAI found that only 14% of the studies had been subject to peer review, while nearly 76% had some degree of connection to the oil and gas industry through funders, authors, and issuers.

PAI also found that the list included reports that had been discredited and retracted by the institutions that published them, including a 2012 report from the University of Texas that an independent panel convened by the school decried as “falling short of contemporary standards of scientific work” after PAI revealed undisclosed conflicts of interest and shoddy scholarship.

The extensive list of studies analyzed in the report was originally compiled by Energy in Depth, a nationwide industry outreach effort, and used to convince legislators in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania to lease mineral rights under a county park for fracking. The list opens a telling window onto the body of fracking research that the oil and gas industry deems fit for public consumption.

“Though the industry says that the science is settled in favor fracking, their own best evidence does not support that claim,” said Robert Galbraith, a research analyst at PAI and co-author of the report.

Read the report at

ExxonMobil slammed with $2.3 Million Fine for 
Fracking-related Water Pollution
The EPA found a roundabout way of holding natural gas drillers accountable for Clean Water Act violations.

The EPA just hit XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil and the nation’s largest natural gas company, with a cool $2.3 million fine for Clean Water Act violations related to its fracking activities in West Virginia.

This is big: you rarely hear about frackers being held federally accountable for polluting water supplies, thanks to Bush-era legislation commonly known as the “Halliburton Loophole.” Basically, it ensures that fracking is exempted from the portions of the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act that would typically make it accountable to federal oversight; as such, the EPA is mostly prevented from regulating both the process and the chemicals it injects into the ground.

The EPA’s approach is a clever workaround of those restrictions. As CleanTechnica’s Tina Casey explains, the pollution targeted by the EPA wasn’t caused by fracking itself, but instead by other, ordinary violations committed by XTO: the company, it charges, dumped sand, dirt, rocks and other dirty fill materials into streams and wetlands without a permit, in violation of the Clean Water Act.

In total, the company damaged 5,300 linear feet of streams and 3.38 acres of wetland — making the $2.3 million fine comparatively large, particularly when you consider the extra $3 million it agreed to pay in restoration costs.

This isn’t the first time the EPA has pursued this roundabout policy of holding frackers accountable. Last year, it nailed fracking giant Chesapeake Energy for the same violation, resulting in a record $6.5 million settlement.


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