Mass. town first in that state to ban fracking waste

May 6th, 2014 | By | Category: Featured Story

By Michael Hussin. Hussin is a spokesperson for Neighbor to Neighbor, a group in Pelham, Massachusetts, that brought the bylaw to the town meeting.

Pelham, Massachusetts, has become the first community in the state to vote unanimously at their annual town meeting to establish a new bylaw prohibiting the storage, use, or dispersal in town or on its roads of any waste products from the process of hydraulic fracturing for gas and oil.

“This is a very significant moment for increasing awareness of the overlooked and profound problems of waste management related to drilling for this fossil fuel”, said Michael Hussin, a spokesperson for “Neighbor to Neighbor”, the group of Pelham citizens who brought the bylaw to the town. “Once people were informed of the consequences for their community they wanted to protect their resources. Hussin said his group had spoken at four public meetings with the Select Board and their Conservation Commission before presenting the bylaw at town meeting. They received the endorsement of both boards.

Reverend Georganne Greene, another member of “Pelham Neighbor to Neighbor” said, “While we focused on issues relating to toxic waste water being offered to towns to spread on their roads as de-icer, we are also aware that natural gas a highly potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. But the main issue today was about wastewater and drilling. The town’s people were clearly concerned about that and voted to do something about it.”

One of the consequences of fracking is the millions of gallons of waste water generated by the process. This water, which contains thousands of gallons of chemicals and additives necessary for the process, is injected miles into the ground under high pressure which then fractures shale beds from which gas emerges. This gas then comes to the surface but also brings back huge quantities of the chemically laden water along with salty brines and radioactivity from naturally occurring radiation in the rock. This water must then be isolated from the environment. Attempts to clean it have proved difficult due to the contamination from chemical, radioactivity and salts. Waste water treatment facilities, poorly designed for filtering this kind of waste and often poorly regulated, along other waste management businesses, will sometimes offer this waste it to towns to use as de-icer or for keeping dust down on their roads . The gas and oil industry is exempted from federal regulations regarding radiation from drilling and state laws are a patchwork of rules. Additionally most fracking companies do not fully disclose the chemicals in the water as they are exempt national disclosure laws and from very poorly monitored state regulations.

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