Why are we voting on fracking wastes?
The waste problem has grown exponentially in nearby Pennsylvania and New York. Other towns have made the mistake of accepting cheap road treatments and fill, and are suffering irreparable damage to their roadways, land, waters and health.
Millions of tons of fracking wastes are generated each year in PA and NY. It is extremely expensive to store safely, and fewer and fewer states are permitting storage or treatment options. Spreading this waste into products such as road de-icers and construction fill is increasingly becoming a problem nationwide.
How can extraction wastes come into Greenwich now?
Road de-icers and construction fill from conventional oil drilling can enter Greenwich legally TODAY under the state moratorium.
Greenwich needs clean de-icers for our roads and clean fill to cap the remaining GHS soil contamination, or the proposed new middle school athletic fields. This ordinance will ensure that we continue to source readily available uncontaminated road treatments and construction fill. Is there a reason why we want to risk repeating the past?
Why doesn’t the State Moratorium protect us?
The current state law is a moratorium which prohibits only limited types of oil and gas hydraulic fracturing wastes.
While it prohibits waste from hydraulic fracturing, the moratorium doesn’t ban many other drilling wastes such as conventional oil drilling. This is a significant gap in protection (see handout from NPR on actual nearby examples.) CT has failed to pass a bill 4 times in 6 years. Why? Many think that due to lobbyist efforts, like CCM, the CT Petroleum Institute, or the Construction Industry Associations, that one will never be passed.
What about DEEP protections?
DEEP operates under the moratorium which addresses limited forms of waste and doesn’t provide comprehensive coverage. Additionally, DEEP is severely understaffed and financially strapped so has limited abilities.
What if DEEP writes regulations as assigned?
This would increase the risk of toxic oil and natural gas waste entering Greenwich.
While DEEP has not met the deadline and NOT written the regulations, that could change. Regulations could allow for permitted use of the wastes that are covered by the moratorium. Also, shifting budget priorities or a new governor could force DEEP to write regulations for the benefit of huge permit fees and revenues. This is why Greenwich needs an ordinance.
The Ordinance is Narrow by Definition
The ordinance bans “wastes” and “waste byproducts” from the process of oil and gas extraction.
This language was approved by Town Counsel, L & R, and the Sub-Committee and can be found in the definitions and are further clarified in the new exemptions. Concerns over recycled construction materials or steel used in oil and gas wells are unfounded because they aren’t waste byproducts.
Banned: treated brine (e.g. for road de-icers or dust suppression or drill cuttings used in contaminated fill)
Not Banned: The oil and gas, the products refined or made from the oil and gas, steel, recycled steel from drilling,
Items such as ”fruit and vegetables washed or irrigated with wastewater, products that have come into contact with wastes, sandwich wrappers, and bottled drinking water” are NOT banned.
Homeowner Liability concerns are addressed by L & R amendment
The Legislative and Rules Committee has approved further amendments and will be proposing them at the RTM on Monday.
Homeowners are protected from liability by these amendments and concerns have been resolved.
A Sense of the Meeting Resolution (SOMR) does not protect Greenwich.
Asking Hartford to please pass a bill is ineffective. GCA supports effective statewide legislation that truly protects CT residents. The State General Assembly hasn’t passed such legislation.
What is the risk of passing a proactive deterrent in our town? What is the risk of NOT passing one? The lobbying interests, that don’t want limitations on their ability to pollute, have a strong influence in Hartford. An ordinance protects us until the state acts. For those who want the state to take action, as we do, passing this ordinance sends a far stronger message to the state legislators, and offers us protection until the state does.
The CCM alternative merely restates current moratorium coverage
The CCM ordinance, representing industry interests, prohibits only the subsection of the waste which is currently banned by the 2014 state moratorium. As it just duplicates the same protections, the CCM agreement is useless.
Surveys of town public works departments have shown that there have been no problems with contractors or vendor pricing. Roads are paved with asphalt. Icy roads are treated with clean salts. Auto repair shops are still recycling motor oil.
Why are extraction wastes harmful?
The waste generally contains toxins, high levels of radiation, and carcinogens. Chemicals and naturally-occuring toxins in fracking and other extraction wastes are known to cause multiple cancers, organ damage, and neurologicial and developmental problems, birth defects and other serious health problems. (Extensive scientific data is available: http://concernedhealthny.org )
Enforcement - We need a deterrent and recourse
With or without a state bill, local governments always work in conjunction with the state, and this will not change.
We are not regulators, and we don’t have toxin police. Contractors know that lead and asbestos need to be handled appropriately. The town doesn’t police these activities. In the case of the 2018 Northwest Greenwich contamination of wells or with the GHS toxic athletic fields, our existing departments did receive notice and called in the state (DEEP), as they would with this ordinance or any toxic contamination. We don’t want to regulate this waste, we want it banned outright as a deterrent. Our town always works in conjunction with the state or EPA as necessary.
Widespread Support for the Ordinance given by Your Town Officials,
Subcommittee, and Legal Department
The ordinance has received widespread support among town bodies including the Board of Selectmen, Board of Health, and Shellfish and Conservation Commissions. The Legal Department has reviewed the ordinance. Your Legislative and Rules committee supports it. The ordinance subcommittee supports it after conducting extensive independent research, and TWICE recommended that the RTM adopt this ordinance.
Almost 900 Greenwich residents, including business owners and health care providers have signed a petition asking the RTM to pass a ban. Local and statewide environmental non-profits, and residents of nearby towns all support this ordinance. The ordinance is opposed by large corporations outside of Greenwich who don’t want restrictions on their ability to dispose of the vast amount of wastes generated in the drilling process, and lobbying groups which represent them. We simply want an industry to be responsible with its wastestream, and until we have independent and peer reviewed studies informing that it is safe for human exposure, we don’t want it.
Note: relevant examples, and scientific documentation for all points are available upon request.