Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions

The Movement to Ban Hazardous Fracking Waste Growing in CT


If you asked most people in Connecticut if they have ever heard of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking, for short) five years ago, you probably would have received a lot of puzzled looks.  Much has happened since then, including the release of Josh Fox’s 2010 documentary Gasland and its 2013 sequel, Gasland II.  Since then, there has been a movement among towns and counties in our neighboring states taking strides towards prohibiting fracking, while activists are using social media and the blogosphere to create a buzz around fracking and its widespread impacts on our health and environment.  Now, after years of outreach and public education from the advocacy community, it’s beginning to seem as if “fracking” may have finally captured the public’s attention.

While the veil of secrecy around fracking has been lifted in many ways, one aspect of gas development remains out-of-sight for many Americans: toxic fracking waste.  The waste products used in fracking operations are loaded with toxic chemicals, including as many as 29 different known carcinogens (cancer causing agents).  To make matters worse, fracking waste coming from drilling operations in the Marcellus Shale underlying New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia can also contain high levels of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORMs) such as Radium-226. These factors combine to produce a waste product that is highly toxic, potentially radioactive, and notoriously difficult to dispose of safely.

Companies engaged in fracking operations around the U.S. have sought to dispose of these hazardous waste products in a variety of ways including dumping it into landfills, disposing of it at municipal wastewater treatment facilities, spreading it on roads as a de-icer, and even illegally discharging waste directly into storm drains and public waterways.  These companies are exempt from federal statutes like the Safe Drinking Water Act, which would require them to disclose information about the chemical constituents of their fracking fluids.  They are also exempt from the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act, allowing them to bypass more rigorous safety requirements for the handling, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste, even when the waste products from fracking are clearly hazardous.  With the federal government taking a hands-off approach to dealing with these issues on a national level, the task of regulating fracking and its waste products is left largely up to the states.  While industrial fracking operations are not happening in Connecticut, the potential for out of state fracking waste to come to our state remains a threat.

Now for the good news: the movement to keep fracking waste out of Connecticut is growing, and it’s stronger than ever.  Currently, a broad coalition of non-profits and community groups is working to get the word out about the dangers that toxic fracking waste pose to Connecticut’s waterways and communities, while mobilizing members of the public to take action locally.  Informational forums around the state have been well attended, and there is a growing contingent of legislators in Hartford that are actively working to protect Connecticut from toxic fracking waste.  Coalition partners have even produced a 60- second radio spot urging Connecticut residents to pick up the phone and tell their elected officials to ban fracking waste in our state.  After all, without a strong showing of public support telling our lawmakers that they must safeguard our state from hazardous fracking waste, this whole movement will be nothing more than toxic fracking waste-water “under the bridge.”

Don’t forget to check out the Don’t Waste CT Facebook and Twitter pages!

Also, listen to the Waste Free CT Radio Spot and tell your legislators in Hartford to Ban Toxic Fracking Waste in Connecticut today!


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