Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone signed a law this week banning the sale of hydrofracking byproducts that are used on roads to melt ice, and that could wind up in sewage treatment facilities.
The byproduct contains a toxic liquid cocktail that can be sold for its brine content, Suffolk officials and local environmental advocates said.
Sponsored by Leg. William R. Spencer, M.D., D-Huntington, the law aims to protect water resources throughout the county.
“This is critical legislation because our residents rely on our sole source aquifer for our drinking water,” Spencer said.
“The use of hydrofracking waste could lead to serious environmental and public health impacts,” he added. “I’m grateful to my colleagues for supporting this important legislation and to County Executive Steve Bellone for signing this bill which will protect our residents, our future generations and our waterways.”
Local environmental advocates, Patti Wood from Port Washington-based Grassroots Environmental and Adrienne Esposito of Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, joined the lawmakers for the signing.
Wood said Grassroots is working with a number of counties across New York, and is “beginning the process with Nassau County.”
"I applaud Leg. Spencer and the entire Suffolk County Legislature for recognizing the need to strengthen this law prohibiting toxic fracking waste from coming into the county," Wood said.
"As we sit on top of our water supply, we cannot afford to take any risk of contaminating it with radioactive materials or hazardous chemicals,” she added.
“Fracking uses millions of gallons of water mixed with a cocktail of chemicals,” Esposito said. “This process creates toxic, hazardous and radioactive waste which pose immense disposal problems and public health concerns."
“This critical law is needed to protect Long Islanders and our vulnerable water resources from exposure to these dangerous waste products," she added. "Long Island should not act as a disposal site for energy companies’ toxic waste disposal schemes.”
The bill expands upon on previously passed legislation by Legislators Hahn and Calarco which banned the use of the byproducts at county wastewater treatment facilities and county roads. This law closes the gaps and will protect the entire county from the risks imposed by the byproduct.
The bill is cosponsored by Legislators Kara Hahn, D-Port Jefferson, Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue), Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), Jay Schneiderman (I-Sag Harbor, al Krupski (D-Riverhead) and Steven Stern (D-Dix Hills). It provides three instrumental prohibitions:
- Prohibits the introduction of natural gas waste into any waste water treatment facility within the County of Suffolk or operated by the County of Suffolk.
- Prohibits the sale of natural gas waste in Suffolk County.
- Prohibits the application of natural gas waste on any road or real property located in Suffolk County.
Suffolk County joins multiple counties across the state that have banned the toxic byproduct, including: Albany County, Rockland County, Putnan County, Westchester County and Onondaga County.
“This bill is a win for our drinking supply and for our residents,” Spencer said.
Leg. William R. Spencer and County Executive Steve Bellone shake hands. Standing are Jim Gaughran, Chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority; Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment; Leg. Kara Hahn; Patti Wood, Executive Director of Grassroots Environmental Education. Credit: Suffolk County Executive's Office.