There’s no fracking in New Jersey, but the disastrous drilling boom in neighboring Pennsylvania shows no signs of slowing down. This has immediate impacts on communities around the state, with pipelines, compressor stations and power plants proposed all across New Jersey.
Fracking poses other threats to public health and safety. To frack a single well, millions of gallons of fluid mixture (water, sand and chemicals) are pumped underground. The waste that flows up to the surface -- which can combine with naturally occurring contaminants underground -- may include benzene, arsenic and lead.
All that waste has to go somewhere. There are corporations that want to bring fracking waste into New Jersey, putting our clean water and health at risk.
There’s something we can do to stop that from happening: By banning the import, storage, and treatment of drilling waste. There’s a bill (S678, A1329) to do just that.
Here are five reasons why we have to ban fracking waste right now:
1. Fracking waste poses a threat to clean, safe drinking water.
The foremost danger posed by fracking waste is to our water supply. Waste discharge can be full of harmful chemical additives like benzene and elevated levels of naturally occurring contaminants like barium and arsenic. The Delaware River provides clean drinking water to millions of people across several states, and it could become a place where fracking waste is stored or dumped as early as 2019.
2. There is no way to treat fracking waste-- and we don’t really know what’s in it.
There is abundant scientific evidence showing that fracking waste is dangerous, and our state’s waste facilities are not equipped to handle these contaminants. In fact, drilling waste could actually be worse than we think. That’s because the industry takes advantages of loopholes allowing them to keep the actual chemicals they use secret. That means wastewater treatment facilities would be left trying to ‘treat’ this waste without knowing the identity of any hundreds of dangerous, possibly carcinogenic chemicals.
3. Fracking waste could be coming to New Jersey as soon as 2019.
The plan to bring fracking waste to New Jersey is already happening. This year, a bill was pushed through Trenton to allow the Chemours treatment facility in South Jersey to start accepting hazardous waste from other facilities. This plant is widely seen as a destination for drilling waste, and the treated waste would be dumped into the Delaware River.
4. Fracking wastes water, and generates more waste than we thought.
Every fracking well requires millions of gallons of water to operate, wasting a precious natural resource in order to deepen our dependence on dirty fossil fuel energy. And private water companies that profiteer are more than happy to sell drillers what they need to keep fracking. Privatizing our water helps sustain the fracking industry, and further contributes to this colossally wasteful practice. New research from Duke University shows that fracking uses far more water than previously thought--and generates far more wastewater too.
5. We’ve banned fracking waste before -- twice! -- so the third time’s a charm.
In 2012 and 2014, the state legislature passed a comprehensive ban on fracking waste-- only to see the measure vetoed by Governor Chris Christie, based on a bogus argument about interstate commerce. Our current governor has vowed to keep fracking waste out of New Jersey. It’s time to pass a bill and give Governor Murphy a chance to fulfill this campaign promise.