Help Ban Fracking Waste

Norwalk River Watershed Association

JOIN THE EFFORT TO BAN FRACKING WASTE FROM CT TOWN-BY-TOWN

AND LET YOUR STATE SENATOR KNOW YOU SUPPORT A BILL THAT WOULD BAN  FRACKING WASTE FROM CT PERMENANTLY

We have been working with volunteers in the six CT watershed towns to ban fracking waste through local ordinance–two have passed protective ordinances so far. On February 13, 2018 Redding became the first town in the watershed and in Fairfield County to pass a ban, and on May 22, 2018 Norwalk passed a ban. Our goal is to help the remaining 4 watershed towns join the 52 other towns and cities in CT that have passed comprehensive ordinances banning this toxic, radioactive waste.  

Our mission at the NRWA is to protect water quality in the Norwalk River watershed. Allowing fracking waste from PA to enter our watershed threatens water quality in our rivers and Long Island Sound.

NRWA LETTER IN SUPPORT OF A STATE BAN, SB 103 

Unfortunately, the State Senate failed to bring to a vote SB 103 in 2018 which would have protected the State from this waste. The legislative session ended on May 9 without a vote. This is the fourth time in six years that the State has failed to vote on a state-wide ban. That means we need to keep passing local ordinances in order to protect our communities. 

UPDATE ON WATERSHED TOWNS: Norwalk & Redding Protected!

RIDGEFIELD: PUBLIC HEARING & VOTE ON COMPREHENSIVE ORDINANCE TO BAN FRACKING WASTE SCHEDULED

PUBLIC HEARING: SATURDAY, JANUARY 5, 10AM, RIDGEFIELD TOWN HALL

VOTE: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9, 7:30PM, RIDGEFIELD TOWN HALL

Background: After much debate and delay, the town never followed through with any action on passing an ordinance to ban fracking waste.  As a result, citizens obtained the required number of signatures on a petition forcing the town to hold a public vote on the issue.  The Board of Selectman had 45 days from November 26 to set date for this vote.   More information here. 

More background: On the September 5, 2018, the Board of Selectmen meeting included a discussion of possible language for an ordinance. Under consideration was a new, weaker ordinance language, that has been proposed by the CT Conference of Municipalities (CCM) instead of the ordinance language proposed by RACE and used to protect 199 municipalities in New York and 51 in Connecticut. The new language would only protect Ridgefield from some types of waste and would not ban the use of this waste from construction fill or road de-icers. Here is an explantion of the problems with the proposed CCM language.  The petition was for a vote on the original comprehensive ordinance language and not the CCM version watered down by industry lobbyists that that would fail to protect your family.  Here is a link to the original comprehensive proposed Ridgefield Ordinance.

See the chart to the right or click here to see the difference between the ban language proposed by CCM and the original language. 

And here is the letter from NRWA clarifying some misconceptions discussed at the Sept. 5 meeting.

WESTON: The Board of Selectmen and Sustainability Committee are considering a comprehensive ban. The process is underway to move the ordinance forward. Please let your selectmen know you support an ordinace in Weston.

Read the NRWA response to the Weston Forum article, “Weston selectmen vote to send fracking waste ban to counsel,” of Feb 5, 2018 by Gregory Menti.

NORWALK: On May 22nd the Norwalk Common Council passed an ordinance to ban waste from oil and gas extraction. This is wonderful news for our waterways and Long Island Sound. Norwalk is the 45th town to pass the ban (though Stamford’s mayor has yet to sign its ban…)

REDDING: Voted to ban fracking waste February 13, 2018.

WILTON: Work is beginning in Wilton. Send a letter of support for a ban to First Selectwoman, Lynne Vanderslice.  It is best if you personalize your letter. Contact us to for more information info@norwalkriver.org.

NEW CANAAN: Work is beginning in New Canaan to step forward. Contact us to get involved.

To join the effort, contact us at info@norwalkriver.org.

Presentation from Food & Water Watch (and talking points for each slide) on why cities and towns should consider passing an ordinance to protect themselves. There are two updates to the presentation: a new map of the towns protected and a new  list of the Types of Oil & Gas Drilling & Extraction Wastes covered by current and proposed bans.

Here is a new 2-page handout explaining Why Connecticut Communities Are Voting Yes on Strong Extraction Waste Ordinances

Please let us know at info@noralkriver.org if you plan to use this presentation in your town!

Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions, put together by our friends at the Greenwich Conservation Advocates.

 

Fracking waste trucks
Fracking waste trucks

Frack waste storage

Chart showing the difference between the weak CCM ordinance and the comprehensive ordinance passed by 51 CT towns

Map showing 41 of the 52 towns that have now passed ordiances to ban fracking waste and those working on it:

Recent article about radium found in road de-icer in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Current State position on using fracking waste as a road de-icer.

How might fracking waste come to the CT watershed Towns? Current law requires the CT Dept of Environemntal and Energy Protection to draw up regulations for the storage and treatment of this waste by July 1, 2018. Depending on those regulations, this waste could be used as a road de-icer as it is in other states, as an additive to construction fill and to concrete often used to cap brownfields.  It poses a threat of spillage while being transported and transferred to storage and treatment facilities.  Over 6,600 such spills have occurred in other states. Owners of industrial sites could apply for permits to build new storage facilities. (The watershed town of Lewisboro, NY is in Westchester County which unanimously voted to ban fracking waste so it is protected.)

The chemicals—what are we talking about here. Of the hundreds of chemicals found in fracking waste, 56% have been examined and 44% we have little to no information about. Of the 56% more than half are soluble in water and over a third are volatile, meaning they can be inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through skin. The chemicals that have been studied, we know to cause cancer and affect the brain and nervous systems, the immune system, respiratory, circulatory, reproductive and endocrine systems, liver and skin.  A new Yale study supports these numbers. https://news.yale.edu/2016/01/06/toxins-found-fracking-fluids-and-wastewater-study-shows

This is a taxpayer cost issue. Redding is already on the hook for paying for cleanup of the wire mill.  This is a way to prevent future “21st Century Wire Mill” situations that could be similarly costly to taxpayers. Spills (of which over 6,600 have occurred nationwide) or leaching from contaminated fill can costs tens of millions to clean up. Radioactive waste that has spilled in other states takes 4000 years to break down and is simply too expensive to remediate. This is a way to protect against the problem by preventing it and/or providing a legal framework for requiring polluters to pay for cleanup—for example from a spill on interstate roadways. Entire counties in New York have passed this ban to prevent future remediation costs as has the state of Vermont and parts of Massachusetts and New Jersey.

This is an issue threatening our local economy. At the Ordinance Committee meeting in Norwalk in February, Richard Harris of Copps Island Oysters, who has devoted his life to protecting and improving water quality in the Norwalk River, pointed out that water quality in Norwalk Harbor is much improved over the last 20 years (reports available at norwakriver.org). He added that the oyster industry brings in a commercial harvest worth $30 million a year.  This figure does not include the value of recreational oyster harvests.  In Norwalk 77,000 acres are considered oyster grounds and roughly 600 people are directly involved in harvesting. This number does not include many hundreds more that make up the fringe employment, truck drivers, shippers, inspectors, etc. The kelp industry is a new arrival, with a defined market still emerging. Another new industry underway is a large-scale effort to raise oysters on land through the early larval stages when they are most open to predatory forces (aquaculture) and then releasing them to the wild once they set. All of these industries, established and emerging, involve food products and are predicated on clean water.  One instance of contamination will shut down these businesses.

This is a watershed issue and a LI Sound issue. Of the few hazardous waste treatment plants in CT that could receive the waste water, two (Meriden and Bristol) have bans in place.  That leaves Bridgeport as the primary remaining recipient.  In Bridgeport waste would be treated and diluted and sent to Westport and Stamford wastewater treatment facilities where it would be treated in systems designed to treat sewage and then returned to LI Sound. As everyone knows, the Sound is a fragile and vitally important nursery for ocean life.  It is crucial that we work to protect it in order to protect ocean life in the Atlantic at large. Radioactivity and chemical contamination have occurred in other states after treatment of fracking waste water. There has been bio-accumulation up the food chain resulting in fishing and other recreational activities posing health problems.

This is a drinking water issue for well owners. If chemicals from a spill seep down to the aquifer, which has happened several times in PA and other states, drinking water is contaminated. Period. Yale research has found traces of fracking chemicals in well water 5 years after contamination. The costs of repeated testing, legal action and remediation fall to homeowners.  Restitution costs to municipalities and the state can be exorbitant.

Let’s send a message to Hartford. The state has failed to pass a ban three times in the last five years. The assembly has passed a statewide ban, but the state senate has failed to bring it to a vote.  Local ordinances are a way to show Hartford that CT doesn’t want this waste by banning it from all six CT watershed towns. 

Other states have bans. Westchester County passed a permanent fracking waste ban in 2012, signed into law by the Republican County Executive. Republican-dominated Putnam County followed the next year. Across the Sound, Nassau & Suffolk Counties, passed waste bans years ago, and have gone back to amend and strengthen them since. All five boroughs of New York City banned fracking waste in 2016. The State of Vermont and many parts of New Jersey also have bans in place. It is time for Connecticut to wake up to the problem and do our part to protect Long Island Sound.

Who wrote the ban and how good is it? The ban CT towns are using was written by attorneys at Riverkeeper in Washington DC and it closes many loopholes that the current, and expiring, moratorium on fracking waste in CT allows.  The ban is comprehensive and designed to protect public health, water quality and towns financially from remediation costs.  See the basic ordinance language used in 35 towns so far.