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Lawmakers seek fracking-waste ban

Should the controversial gas-drilling technique known as “hydrofracking” ever commence in New York, two Suffolk lawmakers want to ensure its potentially toxic wastewater never enters the county.

Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Legis. Wayne R. Horsley (D-Babylon) plan to introduce a bill next month that would ban acceptance of hydraulic fracturing waste at Suffolk sewage treatment plants. The proposal is a response to a recent draft report by the state Department of Environmental Conservation that identified the county’s Bergen Point Sewage Treatment Plant in West Babylon as a site capable of accepting the chemical-laden wastewater produced by fracking.

The report also identified four sewage treatment plants in Nassau County.

“There are multiple environmental concerns,” Hahn said. “It shouldn’t be coming to us.”

“Hydrofracking” injects chemical fluids into underground rock formations in order to release and capture natural gas. Afterward, the fluids must be disposed of at authorized sewage treatment plants.

New York currently has a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, but court battles are being fought upstate over property owners’ rights to allow gas companies to do the drilling.
Hahn said she did not want to wait to see what played out on the state level, citing the proximity of Suffolk’s sewage treatment plants to sensitive waterways.

“These chemicals can harm the treatment process,” she said, “and if the state’s going to do this they should make sure the waste gets treated in a proper manner.”

The proposed ban will be introduced at the March 13 county legislature meeting, before being considered at the March 20 public works committee meeting.


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