Assemblyman Weisenberg: Nassau County Cannot Be a Dumping Ground for Hydrofracking Wastewater

January 30, 2012
Assemblyman Weisenberg joins fracking protesters at a recent rally in Albany.

Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Nassau) has expressed his vehement opposition in New York’s ongoing hydrofracking debate following the release of a list of sewage treatment plants deemed capable of handling hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) wastewater. The list includes Inwood, Bay Park, Cedar Creek and Glen Cove in Nassau County and the Southwest Sewer District’s Bergen Point plant in Suffolk County.

“Nassau County should not, and will not, be a dumping ground for hydrofracking waste,” said Assemblyman Weisenberg. “We cannot afford to compromise the health and safety of our community and environment – there are far too many questions that remain in the hydrofracking debate.”

The list was made available following the September 2011 release of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Revised Draft of the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact State (SGEIS) on hydrofracking. The wastewater would be runoff from the gas-rich Marcellus Shale region – the Southern Tier of New York and the northern border of Pennsylvania, east of the New York City reservoirs – used to free natural gas from underground rock in the hydraulic fracturing process. Although Long Island is not a part of this region, the prominent locations of its sewage treatment plants place it at the forefront of the issue and makes Nassau County a frontrunner for treating the contaminated wastewater.

The DEC plans to investigate disposal of the wastewater on a case-by-case basis before it issues permits allowing companies to begin the hydraulic fracturing process in the Marcellus Shale region. The draft includes the list of sewage treatment plants that have the capacity for treating the wastewater, which often includes high volumes of water, sand and unknown mixes of chemicals and naturally occurring radioactive material.

“The DEC’s draft does not say nearly enough about how the wastewater should be handled,” said Assemblyman Weisenberg. “In addition, our county’s sewage treatment plants have demonstrated an inability to properly handle the county’s current wastewater. To even consider adding additional volume is absurd.”

Assemblyman Weisenberg has been a long-time advocate for the environment, receiving a 105 rating this past legislative session from the Environmental Planning Lobby/Environmental Advocates – a statewide coalition that lobbies to protect New York’s ecological community of people, land and wildlife. His rating tied for the highest score of New York legislators.

Additionally, Assemblyman Weisenberg has a record of sponsoring and securing passage of local environmental legislation, including a law that prevented the denigration of Long Island’s Lloyd Aquifer, the region’s sole source of fresh drinking water (Ch. 567 of 2008). He also consistently champions funding for the Environmental Protection Fund, strongly supports cleanup initiatives for Long Island’s brownfields and has sponsored initiatives to protect local marine life (Ch. 293 of 2011, Ch. 182 of 2003 and Ch. 324 of 1999).

Furthermore, Assemblyman Weisenberg has helped secure almost $600,000 in state money to fund a pollution study of the Western Bays of Long Island.

“We cannot afford to compromise the health and safety of our community and environment,” said Assemblyman Weisenberg. “Our community is not a place for toxic waste dumping. Until a more thorough investigation is completed on the potential hazards, I will remain vehemently opposed to hydrofracking in New York State.”