Speakers demand total ban on fracked wastewater
First set of public hearings on proposed water rules

| December 9, 2021

Fracking_Site_in_Warren_Center,_PA_04 DC
Fracking site in Warren Center, Bradford County, Pa.

Thirteen people spoke Wednesday at the first of four public hearings that the Delaware River Basin Commission is holding on its proposal to prohibit the discharge of fracked wastewater in the basin along with new regulations concerning the import and export of Delaware River Basin water.

And there were four speakers at the second public hearing held later that day at 6:30 p.m. 

All 17 were unanimous in rejecting the new rules, with all speakers noting that the importation of fracked wastewater needs to be prohibited, not just the discharge of fracked wastewater.

They pointed out that the industry is facing a huge and growing problem with its fracked wastewater and, without an outright ban on importation the DRBC is, in Jeff Tittel’s words, “Leaving a loophole big enough to drive a truck through and maybe a fracked water pipeline.”

Tittel retired in the spring as director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, but felt strongly enough about these proposals that he appeared at the hearing.

Speaker after speaker railed against the “transport, storage or disposal” of fracked wastewater in the basin, giving many examples of how the gas industry could get around the proposed rules.

Here are some of Tracy Carluccio’s comments (she’s the deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network):

“The draft regulations propose to prohibit the discharge of fracking wastewater to water and land, which is a crucial protection we need, but the regulations do not prohibit the import of wastewater produced by fracking, which will greenlight fracking-related projects that don’t strictly ‘discharge to water or land.’ And that’s a huge loophole that would allow fracking wastewater to enter the watershed and cause pollution through other means of release. These include but are not limited to wastewater processing employing evaporation, thermal oxidation, and other so-called ‘zero-discharge’ treatment methods that release air emissions but don’t discharge directly to water or land.

“There is also no proposed prohibition on the reuse of this wastewater for cooling water in manufacturing or by utilities, or construction such as cement making, nor on fracking wastewater storage. These activities will deliver fracking pollution through air emissions that deposit on water, soil, vegetation, fish and aquatic life. This air pathway of pollution will cause the toxic and radioactive properties of fracking wastewater to pollute the Delaware River Watershed.

“In addition to air deposition, any operation that treats, uses, stores, or transfers fracking wastewater can release indirect stormwater pollution and cause groundwater contamination. The required transportation of this waste into and around the watershed – whether overland, on water, or by pipeline — exposes the watershed environment and communities to spills and accidents that gravely endanger water quality, habitats, and human and nonhuman communities.”

Craig Stevens, from Silver Lake in Susquehanna County, wanted to warn people who live in the Delaware River basin that we should learn from his experiences with fracking in his county.

“You frack, you have blowback. The water from fracking has poisoned the Susquehanna River, not just up here but all the water downstream.”

And this from Sharon Furlong, spokeswoman for Bucks Environmental Action:

“Thank you for prohibiting fracking itself in the entire watershed area. 

“However, the proposed regulations which would allow the importation of toxic fracking wastewater, along with the processing, storage or disposal of said poisonous water is like allowing the horse to live, but burning down the barn and setting fire to its grazing lands.

“This doesn’t work for the horse, and it doesn’t work for us. It only works for the natural gas industry.”

The next two hearings are set for:

Dec. 15: from 1:00 p.m. to no later than 3 p.m. 

Dec. 15: from 4:00 p.m. to no late than 6 p.m.

Registration to speak is on-going, ending Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. Check out the DRBC web site.

For more information, here’s previous coverage: https://delawarecurrents.org/2021/12/06/drbc-weighs-regulating-fracking-wastewater-and-the-public-can-join-the-conversation/

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire has been a journalist for 30 years in New York and Connecticut. She started in weekly newspapers and moved to full-time work in dailies 25 years ago. She knows about the tectonic changes in journalism firsthand, having been part of what was euphemistically called a "reduction in force" six years ago. Now she's working to find new ways to "do" the news as an independent online publisher of news about the Delaware River, its watershed and its people.

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