The Case for Closing New York’s Oil & Gas Industry Waste Loophole

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New York Prohibits Fracking But Accepts Frack Waste

Governor Cuomo’s ban on shale fracking was a historic step in defense of public health and the environment. But it is not enough to protect New York from the detrimental effects of this dangerous gas extraction method. The fracking ban still allows hazardous shale oil and gas waste, which can contain toxic chemicals and even radioactive materials, to be disposed of in New York landfills and spread on roads.

CLOSING THE LOOPHOLE WOULD STOP ROAD SPREADING

Closing the loophole would apply hazardous waste law to all oil and gas wastes that are found to contain hazardous substances, including liquid wastes that are currently spread on roads in New York. Even conventional oil and gas “brine” waste can contain toxic chemicals, metals, excess salts, radioactive materials and carcinogens like benzene, just like fracking waste. Closing the hazardous waste loophole would stop road spreading until conventional oil and gas “brine” is thoroughly tested; if it meets the definition of hazardous, it would be prohibited.

CLOSING THIS LOOPHOLE WOULD MAKE NEW YORK A NATIONAL LEADER

Closing the hazardous waste loophole would make New York State the first state in the nation to apply hazardous waste laws to all of what peer-reviewed science shows are dangerous oil and gas waste sources. Reversing this special exemption would shift the burden of proof for the safety of waste to oil and gas operators who generate it — not the disposal facilities and the public, which is currently the case.

Closing the loophole would:

  • Subject oil and gas waste to laboratory analysis to determine whether it has the characteristics of hazardous waste (i.e., ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity);
  • Subject wastes to clearer, stronger management regulations like processing, tracking and marking of loads, recordkeeping with a manifest system, reporting to DEC, and specific requirements for clean up in the case of a spill;
  • Ensure that waste is disposed of only at facilities equipped to safely handle it.