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No frack wastewater here

Comments from the Damascus Citizens for Sustainability on the Delaware River Basin Commission’s proposed fracking wastewater regulations

By BARBARA ARRINDEL
Posted 2/23/22

There’s a loophole in the recent frack ban installed by the Delaware River Basin that would allow fracking waste to be imported into the Delaware River Basin (DRB). The Delaware River Basin …

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My view

No frack wastewater here

Comments from the Damascus Citizens for Sustainability on the Delaware River Basin Commission’s proposed fracking wastewater regulations

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There’s a loophole in the recent frack ban installed by the Delaware River Basin that would allow fracking waste to be imported into the Delaware River Basin (DRB). The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) is accepting public comments on its proposed rules until 5 p.m. on February 28. When drilling was banned in the DRB last year, it was because of the harm to water and health from toxic processes—and now the fracking industry is being invited to bring its wastewater into the DRB, gravely threatening our air, water, wildlife and public health.

Our fight began in 2008 with intense on-the-ground organizing in and around the Delaware River Basin, and including New York City (half of NYC’s water comes from the Delaware River)—and we are proud to say we’ve held the line and gotten a ban of frack drilling and the related pollution in both vital watersheds. First we won the NYC battle (2010), which led to the eventual ban on fracking in New York State (2014), which in turn set an important precedent. The Delaware Basin drilling ban only happened last year. This victory could help pave the way for an end to this toxic industry nationwide. It was not however, a complete ban; the proposed rules would allow the import of frack waste to be stored, processed or used in some way within the Delaware Basin.

And if you live in an area where there is already contamination from frack waste, your personal testimony of its impacts can help push the DRBC to ban frack waste imports into the basin.

We are asking you to comment—and ask your friends and your network to do the same. Our goal is to make our voices heard loudly as stewards of the land, protectors of our homes, our health and the health of the future. We are asking you to tell the DRBC, “No wastewater import! No water export for fracking elsewhere!”

If all of us together can persuade the DRBC to make such a change, it would not be just a narrow victory for the river basin—it could be the means toward helping all faced with fracking and its impacts.

Our website, at DCS.org, has a link with simple instructions on the homepage. And see Watershed Wednesdays (https://tinyurl.com/yckjn3ab) for many more details and references. Thank you for all your hard work and for sharing your comments to help protect our world and our waters!

Barbara Arrindell is the director of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS). DCS maintains an office on Main Street in Narrowsburg, NY.

COMMENTS NEEDED TO PROTECT OUR WATER AND HOME…again!

Are You a Steward of the Environment?

DELAWARE RIVER BASIN — With the deadline for submitting comments on the Delaware River Basin Commission’s proposed regulations related to fracking wastewater coming up on February 28, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS) is reaching out to the public to educate them on the issues and encourage participation. Along with other members of the Delaware River Frack Ban Coalition, DCS stresses that major loopholes in the proposed regulations will allow significant contamination of basin land and waters from fracking waste despite the recently enacted ban on fracking itself, while the water resources of the basin in times of drought could be dangerously depleted by exports to other regions for fracking. Only a complete ban of the import of frack waste, and export of water for fracking elsewhere will protect human and environmental health.

Only if members of the public who rallied to make their opposition to fracking known to the DRBC in the past—resulting in the ban of actual drilling now in place--make a similar effort now, will it be possible to avoid this damage. To comment online, you must use the DRBC online form  https://dockets.drbc.commentinput.com/?id=x2K8A  (no emailed comments unfortunately).  Postal mail submissions also accepted if you start your postal submission with an explanation why you cannot use the web-based system. Mail to: Commission Secretary, DRBC, P.O. Box 7360, West Trenton, NJ 08628.

You can submit as many comments as you want. Best to start your comment with a few sentences in your own words,  then paste in material from references. For more information on the draft regulations and their potential consequences visit DamascusCitizens.org.  See DCS Summary of Issues with the proposed DRBC frack waste import and water export rules. For questions or assistance about submitting comments, you can email dcs@DamascusCitizens.org.

An increasing number of scientific studies have shown that fracking wastewater contains numerous toxins, including heavy metals, endocrine disruptors, PFAs (called “forever chemicals”), as well as high levels of radioactivity (see https://concernedhealthny.org/compendium/) However, due to federal loopholes granted for political, not scientific, reasons, it is not technically defined as “hazardous,” meaning that state and federal regulations do not mandate that it be handled with the care warranted by the dangers it poses. That means that many of the worst dangers posed by fracking itself, for which frack drilling for oil or gas was banned from the Delaware River Basin will be incurred if the wastes from the practice are allowed into the river valley.

All of the Delaware River Basin stands to be harmed by frack waste import, including New York City and the  Philadelphia area as all their water comes from the Delaware River Basin - plus large parts of New jersey will not have water without the Delaware.

Some of the most significant weaknesses pointed out by DCS and the Frack Ban Coalition are:

  • While the regulations define and prohibit “discharge” of frack waste to land or waters in the basin, they allow “import” of such waste, leaving open the question of what such waste will be doing in the basin—and where it will be going--after it is imported.
  • If it is being stored, the regulations say nothing about how long it could be stored; it might become indefinite. How will leaks, spills, accidents or even deliberate dumping be avoided, given DRBC’s lack of enforcement capability? 
  • If it is being treated, how will contamination by such processes themselves be avoided; for instance, some involve heat procedures that result in considerable air contamination?
  • Given the high levels of radioactivity—which the industry itself admits are present and not possible to remove—how can such “treatment” render the waste harmless?
  • What would happen to the residual toxins left by any “treatment”? Where would they go—other than potentially into the environment of the river valley?
  • Given the high volume of water used by fracking (up to 9.7 million gallons per fracking per well, with many wells fracked more than once), can the Delaware River Basin afford the complete removal of such large quantities of water from its hydrologic system?
  • All impacts have negative economic effects - the economic value of the Delaware River Basin is detailed here: Socioeconomic Value of the Delaware River Basin 

The DRBC expressly seeks comment on the effects the proposed rules may have within the Basin on:

  • water availability;
  • the control and abatement of water pollution;
  • economic development;
  • the conservation and protection of drinking water supplies;
  • the conservation and protection of aquatic life;
  • the conservation and protection of water quality in Special Protection Waters; and
  • the protection, maintenance and improvement of water quantity and quality Basinwide

The Commission welcomes and will consider any other comments that concern the potential effects of the draft rules on the conservation, utilization, development, management and control of the water and related resources of the Basin.

DCS is also working with the other members of the Delaware River Frack Ban Coalition Organizing Committee to get additional spoken comment sessions (three have been held) and the ability to use email or fax to place comments. There will be updates on DamascusCitizens.org.

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