UNITED STATES NEWS

EPA: NY should map gas wells, set radiation limits

Jan 12, 2012, 9:13 PM

Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – The Environmental Protection Agency says New York regulators should set limits for radioactive materials in gas-drilling wastewater sent to public treatment plants before allowing any hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells in the state.

The federal agency made that suggestion and others related to radiation from gas-drilling activities in 44 pages of comments submitted Wednesday night on the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposed rules for high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said Wednesday that the state agency received an unprecedented number of comments on its environmental review, which began in 2008. DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said Thursday that 32,100 comments have been tallied so far and the number is expected to exceed 40,000 when all are counted.

The EPA is conducting its own review of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which releases gas from deep shale formations by injecting wells with chemically treated water at high pressure to break up surrounding rock. Initial research results of the EPA study, which focuses on the vast amount of fresh water used and wastewater produced by fracking, will be released this year.

In its comments on DEC’s study, the federal agency recommends that the DEC develop a Geographic Information System-based display that shows the location of permitted gas wells and update it at least monthly with the stage of operations on each site. The publicly accessible map should also show public water wells and intakes, EPA said.

Environmental groups, some of which have called for a ban on fracking instead of regulations, say the activity is a threat to drinking water supplies. DEC’s proposed rules would ban hydraulic fracturing in the watersheds of New York City and Syracuse, an exclusion supported by EPA.

The industry, citing a long history of problem-free drilling in watersheds and through aquifers, says the state’s rules are unnecessarily restrictive.

One of the biggest problems related to a boom in gas development in the Marcellus Shale formation underlying parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia is how to dispose of the millions of gallons of polluted wastewater produced by fracking. Municipal water treatment plants aren’t designed to remove some of the contaminants found in the wastewater, including radioactive elements.

While the state’s review says flowback water coming out of fracked wells is not expected to contain significant levels of naturally occurring radioactive materials, EPA pointed out its own data from six natural gas companies in Pennsylvania that show elevated levels of radioactive materials in wastewater.

EPA advises that DEC sets a limit for radioactivity in drilling wastewater sent to treatment plants. It also notes that both EPA and DEC have to approve a treatment plant’s analysis of natural gas wastewater before the waste is accepted for disposal. The analysis must include identification of any potential effects on the plant’s operations.

The federal agency noted that some of the out-of-state treatment plants listed by DEC as potential disposal sites for gas drilling wastewater would be unable to handle New York’s wastewater.

EPA also recommends that DEC prohibit the spreading of all gas well wastewater on roads for de-icing because the liquid would have elevated levels of contaminants, including radioactive elements.

Environmental groups criticized the DEC document for its lack of a definite plan for disposal of wastewater.

Permitting for shale gas wells has been on hold since the DEC review began in 2008, and won’t be issued until after all the comments are considered and taken into account in a final document, likely later this year.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE - Leslie Moonves attends the CBS Network 2015 Programming Upfront at The Tent at Lincoln Cente...

Associated Press

LA ethics panel rejects proposed fine for ex-CBS exec Les Moonves over police probe interference

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission unanimously rejected a proposed settlement between the city and Les Moonves on Wednesday, saying a tougher penalty is warranted for the former CBS chief executive accused of interfering with a police investigation into sexual assault allegations against him. Moonves had agreed to pay an $11,250 […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Trial of ‘Rust’ armorer to begin in fatal film rehearsal shooting by Alec Baldwin

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Attorneys prepared to make opening statements Thursday at the first trial related to the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal for the Western film “Rust.” Before Baldwin’s case progresses, the movie’s weapons supervisor is being tried on charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Darryl George, a 17-year-old junior, before walking across the street to go into Barbers Hil...

Associated Press

Trial to determine if Texas school’s punishment of a Black student over his hair violates new law

ANAHUAC, Texas (AP) — A trial is set to be held Thursday to determine if a Black high school student in Texas can continue being punished by his district for refusing to change his hairstyle, which he and his family say is protected by a new state law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination. At issue […]

2 hours ago

In this undated image provided by Haylee Wendling, family members of Colin Conner pose for a photo ...

Associated Press

Amid fentanyl crisis, Oregon lawmakers propose more funding for opioid addiction medication in jails

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Kendra Sawyer spoke with her dad from the Deschutes County jail and told him she loved him. Six hours later, in the throes of opioid withdrawal, the 22-year-old took her own life. A year later, Sawyer’s father, Kent, is left wondering whether his daughter, troubled as she was, might still be […]

2 hours ago

FILE - New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks Feb. 16, 2024, in New York. Donald Trump coul...

Associated Press

New York AG says she’ll seize Donald Trump’s property if he can’t pay $454 million civil fraud debt

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump could be at risk of losing some of his prized properties if he can’t pay his staggering New York civil fraud penalty. With interest, he owes the state nearly $454 million — and the amount is going up $87,502 each day until he pays. New York Attorney General Letitia […]

2 hours ago

FILE - N.C. Association of Educators Vice President Bryan Proffitt speaks during a news conference ...

Associated Press

Going on 30 years, an education funding dispute returns to the North Carolina Supreme Court

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Longstanding education funding litigation is returning to North Carolina’s highest court hardly a year after a majority of justices — all Democrats — agreed that taxpayer money could be moved to spend on addressing schooling inequities statewide without the express approval of legislators. What’s apparently changed to permit Thursday’s scheduled oral […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

EPA: NY should map gas wells, set radiation limits