New report supports closing oil and gas waste loophole in New York

Since 2011, over 635,169 tons of potentially radioactive waste have been buried in New York landfills

New York — Today, Earthworks released the New York Waste Report, a state-specific follow-up toStill Wasting Away, released last week. The report unveils how much and what types of oil and gas drilling and fracking waste end up in New York landfills and the potential impact to New Yorkers. The first recommendation from the report is to close the hazardous waste loophole. A bill to do just that failed to come to a vote in the New York State Assembly just last week.

“New York State had an unprecedented opportunity to take meaningful action to protect all New Yorkers from hazardous waste from fracking,” said Melissa Troutman, lead author of the report.“No other state has been so close to closing the ‘special’ waste loophole that the oil and gas industry enjoys all over the country, to the detriment of all. Hopefully next year, legislators can prioritize closing this loophole, hold the industry accountable for its waste, and ensure that critical safeguards are enforced.”

Currently, New York imports both fracked natural gas and fracking waste from neighboring Pennsylvania, where residents have lodged over 9,000 complaints of water, air, pipeline, noise and land pollution impacts since fracking began there in 2004. Unfortunately, the health and environmental concerns that have so far kept fracking out of New York have not been applied to keeping the waste from these operations out as well. Since 2011, over 635,169 tons of potentially radioactive drill cuttings have been buried in New York landfills.

The report confirms that New York continues to accept oil and gas wastes from Pennsylvania in spite of the fact that the state does not know which chemicals are used in the drilling and fracking processes. Furthermore, the state is allowing oil and gas wastewater to be spread on roads, even around schools, without testing for radioactive materials and other toxins known to exist in this waste.

The New York Waste Report offers several recommendations to address the growing waste problem, starting with the reclassification of oil and gas wastes as hazardous under state law. This is a critical first step in increasing testing, tracking and disposal practices for waste that will protect land and water in New York.

The New York report follows the national report, which was released on June 18.