The dSGEIS fails to adequately address frack waste disposal.
There is nowhere to safely dispose of frack waste in New York state. No drilling permit should be issued without a final disposition plan for frack waste. The lack of facilities to dispose of fracking wastes is emblematic of the State’s lack of preparedness for horizontal hydrofracking shale. The dSGEIS attempts to mask this lack of preparedness by speculating on how frack waste might be disposed of in Section 5.13.3, but does not require any those solutions to be in place prior the issuance of permits, nor does it require the permit applicant to show how the frack waste will be finally disposed of, it merely suggests that it will attempt to track such waste. To where, exactly ? Frack waste from Pennsylvania was trucked into the state to the municipal treatment plant at Auburn. The closest EPA permitted disposal wells are located across two state lines – in Ohio. Or, once in Pennsylvania, a New York frack waste truck may simply dump it into the nearest trout stream.1 The “bootlegging” of frack waste across state lines has drawn the scrutiny of the EPA.2 Proceeding without adequate preparation simply repeats the mistakes on frack waste made in Pennsylvania. That state issued permits without any clear disposal plan in place for the frack waste generated. The results were shameful.3 The SGEIS lists various ideas of how to address frack waste disposal – but offers no conclusive solutions. There are only 6 permitted disposal wells in New York, only 3 of which take brine, none of which take fracking flowback.4 Texas has almost 12,000 EPA permitted disposal wells or a total of 50,000 including injection wells that can take produced water.5 5.12.2. 1 Recycling of Fracking Flowback The proposed regulations mention re-use, but re-use is not disposal; it simply increases the net toxicity and radioactivity with each re-use - to the point of becoming to “hot to handle” and too toxic to move safely on rural roads. 5.13.3 Flowback Water Cumulatively, the DEC’s proposed dSGEIS would facilitate the production of billions of
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gallons of fracking flowback. The DEC has no definitive plan or regulations on how to dispose of this toxic radioactive material. Wholly irresponsible solutions have been proposed by the DEC and already deployed in New York6 – including spreading flowback as de-salting material on roads without proper SEQRA approval or dumping it into municipal treatment plants that are incapable of removing either the toxic chemicals or radioactive materials. Municipal Sewage Treatment Facilities It is illegal to treat fracking flowback in sewer plants in most states, including Pennsylvania, so it is trucked to the closest disposal wells in Ohio,7 or trucked to municipal sewage treatment plants in New York8 that are not equipped to treat it. See Figure 1 for a map of vulnerable treatment plants. The DEC suggests that the fracking waste water could be “pre-treated” before it is run through the sewer plant, but can site no such systems in use. Figure 2 Municipal Treatment Plants That Could Take Frack Waste

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2 Road Spreading The DEC supposedly requires an SEQRA to allow fracking flowback to be spread on rural roads as “de-icer”. Alas, the DEC have already ignored their own requirement, allowing millions of gallons to be spread on thousands of miles of rural roads, including next to protected trout streams, for year after year, which simply increases the build-up of toxins and radioactive materials.9 Spreading frack waste on roads is illegal in most states. Figure 2 Frack Waste Spread on Roads Near Trout Streams

5.13.4 Solid Residuals from Flowback Water Treatment Fracking flowback is toxic and radioactive. The SGEIS equivocates on radioactivity, but carbon rich “black shale” is, by industry definition, radioactive. Black shale is, according to the American Petroleum Institute’s definition, more radioactive than any other sedimentary layer. If it were not, it would not show up as “shale” on the gamma ray reading of a well log. Horizontally hydrofracking shale is a textbook way to bring radioactive material to the surface. Processing frack flowback leaves a residual sludge that is hundreds to thousands of times above normal levels.10 The toxicity of the residual



sludge is similarly concentrated. If this toxic radioactive sludge is not injected into a EPA approved disposal well, it is likely to be improperly disposed of – meaning left somewhere on the surface of the earth - where it is likely to pollute water, as frackers have in Pennsylvania.11 Disposal Wells As previously mentioned, there are no permitted disposal wells in New York that can take fracking flowback. Nor are there any in Pennsylvania. The closest are in Ohio, which recently quadrupled the price charged to take frack waste. There are several problems with injection wells – they tend to concentrate truck traffic going and coming to the wells – which can ruin property values in the area,12 and they leak – which can precipitate earthquakes, a rather startling side-effect of both fracking and disposal wells.13 Conclusion A drilling permit should not be issued without a disposition plan of frack waste. Recycling is not final disposition, it simple increases toxicity and radioactivity. Processing is not final disposition, it simply reduces the flowback to sludge. Final disposition means just – that frack waste must be permanently and safely disposed of. Or no permit.

James L. Northup Cooperstown




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