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 PERMANENTLY

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.

State Ban Update:  We have another chance now to pass a state-wide ban. The Environment Committee will hold a public hearing on Monday, February 4, 2019 at 10:30 A.M. in Room 2B of the LOB. Sign-up for the hearing will take place at 9:30 A.M. in the First Floor Atrium of the LOB (line starts earlier).  Please email written comments in Word or PDF format to envtestimony@cga.ct.gov; PDF format is strongly preferred. Comments received by 3:00 PM Friday, February 1st will be available for members of the committee during the public hearing. Comments should clearly state your name and names of Bills. 

SUPPORT S.B. No. 753 (RAISED) AN ACT CONCERNING THE STATE-WIDE BAN ON FRACKING WASTE.  The comprehensive language in this bill will protect CT. It amends state statute to permanently ban all OIL and GAS well extraction waste, which includes fracking waste.

SUPPORT S.B. No. 232 (COMM) AN ACT CONCERNING THE ALLOWABLE PERCENTAGE OF LEAKAGE FROM GAS PIPELINES. This bill requires stricter repair action for leaking fracked gas pipelines (change to a smaller 1% leak, instead of 3% leakage now) and no longer lets gas companies charge their customers for gas lost from leakage. See CT Chapter Sierra Club website for more info.

NRWA LETTER IN SUPPORT OF A STATE BAN

Four times over the last six years the State has failed to vote on a state-wide ban. Let’s let them know its time to protect CT!

Watershed Update: We have been working with volunteers in the watershed towns to ban fracking waste through local ordinance–five out of seven have passed protective ordinances so far. Redding and Norwalk passed bans last year, Ridgefield and Weston passed bans this year, and Lewisboro, NY has been protected by Westchester County’s ban for several years. Our goal is to encourage the remaining 2 watershed towns, Wilton and New Canaan, to join the 56 other towns and cities in CT that have passed ordinances banning this toxic, radioactive waste.  

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.

Resources: 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.

Map showing the 56 towns that have now passed ordinances to ban fracking waste. In our watershed Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Norwalk, and Lewisboro, NY are protected.  Wilton and New Canaan do not have ordinances yet. 

Chart showing the difference between the weak CCM ordinance and the comprehensive ordinance passed by 54 CT towns or click here to see the difference between the ban language proposed by CCM and the original language used by over 200 NY towns and 54 CT towns. 

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.

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.