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Date : Thu, 26 Jun 2014 22:17:52 -0400

For Immediate Release
June 26, 2014
Contact: Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100


Today the Assembly passed a the fracking waste ban bill 61-17-1 and it now goes to the Governor’s desk. This legislation A2108,prohibits the treatment, discharge, disposal, or storage of toxic fracking waste in New Jersey. This bill would also stop the use of fracking wastewater on roads for deicing and dust suppression. Our state is increasingly being targeted for disposal of this unsafe waste with 4 facilities taking the waste in the past. This waste is a threat to our public health and our waterways and we need the Governor to sign this bill.

“This is a victory for clean water and against dumping toxic waste in New Jersey. This legislation will help protect our waterways and environment form these toxic chemicals. We applaud the legislature for standing up against fracking waste and for protecting our drinking water. Today the Legislature sends a clear message that you cannot dump on New Jersey,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

The fracking waste ban legislation is constitutional and has been written to ban fracking waste regardless of its origin. The Office of Legislative Services has reviewed the legislation and issued a memo stating it does not violate the Interstate Commerce Clause. Other legal opinions have confirmed the bills constitutionality as well.

“The Governor used his false interpretation of constitutionality as an excuse to veto the bill. It is easier to rationalize his veto this way than to look at facts, the law, and the constitution. This was his way of siding with big oil and gas over the people of New Jersey. Hopefully now that he has had two years to further review this legislation, he will sign the bill and put these protections in place,” said Jeff Tittel.

During Hurricane Sandy we saw a number of problems at water treatment plants, resulting in raw sewage and other dangerous materials being discharged directly in our waterways. If we allow fracking waste to be brought into New Jersey that waste could also potentially reach our waterways in such a weather event. The Passaic Valley Plant alone spilled over 2 billion gallons of raw sewage into Newark bay. Other plants in Sayreville, Hoboken, and Union Beach also discharged sewage in the aftermath of the storm, resulting in between 400 to 500 million gallons being discharged everyday across the state. Adding fracking waste to this mix would add over 700 chemicals to the mix.

“We need the Governor to sign this bill to protect our waterways and to stop the discharge of fracking waste in New Jersey. We already have too many toxic sites we do not need anymore,” Tittel stated. “Two years ago the Governor vetoed the same bill. We hope he decides to stand with the people of New Jersey and not the big oil and gas companies. He was more concerned then for his national political ambitions, Gov. Corbett, and the fracking industry than New Jersey’s environment.”

In addition to added chemicals, fracking waste also contains harmful natural contaminants released from deep underground in the fracking process and brought back to the surface, including radioactive materials. An investigation of Pennsylvania and West Virginia gas wells by the New York Times found that of 240 wells, at least 116 were producing wastewater with radiation levels hundreds of times higher than the EPA’s drinking water standard.

New Jersey’s wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to handle the toxins found in fracking wastewater and cannot remove all the chemicals and radioactive materials before discharging the waste into our waterways. This could potentially lead to the discharge of dangerously high levels of harmful pollutants into our rivers, groundwater, estuaries, and bays.

Fracking waste is exempted from critical federal protections regulating the disposal of hazardous waste and hazardous materials. This free pass from important standards increases the risks to public health and the environment. There are also safety concerns with the transportation of the waste into the state. There could be accidental spills as fracking wastewater is being trucked to treatment plants with impacts to local communities, water bodies and groundwater.

“If he vetoes this bill we are going to fight to get an override in the legislature. This bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and we are going to hold the legislators feet to the fire to make sure we can get an override. Protecting our environment is too important to allow politics to veto commonsense and clean water,” said Jeff Tittel.

Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
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