What the hell are they thinking?
Several rural communities and counties in New York have received permission from state regulators—despite a state fracking moratorium and a warning from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—to spread fracking waste brine on roads as a de-icer.
Environmental group Riverkeeper, which focuses on the health of the Hudson River, warns that the liquid can move into watersheds, a concern that led nine other counties in the state to ban the practice. And remember, this is mystery juice. The natural gas industry, the frackheads who inject the fluid into subterranean shale formations to force out natural gas, has kept the chemical makeup of the fluid a closely held industrial secret.
So no one outside the industry really knows what those local snow-and-ice crews are spraying on the roadways. According to Capital New York, Riverkeeper scientist Bill Wegner sees disaster looming:
“The biggest concern is the carcinogens; you don’t want that to get into drinking water supplies,” Wegner said.
Production brine largely comes from some of the 6,000 low-volume gas wells currently allowed in New York as well as some in Pennsylvania, and is used for de-icing, dust control and road stabilization. The fluid can pollute rivers, streams and aquifers if not controlled properly, and it contains high levels of chloride, benzene and toluene, all of which can cause health problems in humans, Wegner said. It can also contain naturally-occuring radioactive materials. And while chloride is contained in the road salt commonly used across the country, it is far more concentrated in fracking waste. Some of the brine is a waste product that comes from natural gas storage facilities. Thirteen municipalities received state permission to use fracking brine, which comes out of wells, and 10 use brine that is removed from natural gas after it has been stored for a while. Both contain pollutants...."