State Legislature closes hazardous waste loophole

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Men with Cabot Oil and Gas work on a natural gas valve at a hydraulic fracturing site on January 18, 2012 in South Montrose, Pennsylvania. (Spencer Platt / Getty)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The State Legislature passed A.2655/S.3392, a statute that closes a loophole that allowed hazardous hydrofracking waste to be dumped in New York even while hydrofracking itself was banned.

The legislation passed the Assembly on Monday and the Senate on Wednesday. It must be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to become a law.

Shale fracking has polluted drinking water sources throughout the country—in Pennsylvania’s Monongahela River, for example—and Cuomo’s ban defended both public health and the environment. However, the fracking ban still allowed shale oil and gas waste—which can be highly flammable, toxic, and occasionally radioactive—to be imported.

Formerly, the loophole let such waste avoid the label of “hazardous,” so it was regularly accepted to be spread on roads, or to be disposed of improperly at dumpsites and landfills throughout the state. A June 2019 report showed that New York had accepted over 638,000 tons and about 23,000 barrels of fracking waste from Pennsylvania fracking operators since 2011.

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking injecting wells with high volumes of chemical-laced water that frees up pockets of natural gas and threatens water supplies. The Marcellus Shale Gas Field extends through parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, holding trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.

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