DRBC Allows Dumping Frack Waste in the Delaware

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has released their proposal to amend its Special Regulations to address natural gas development activities within the Delaware River Basin. These amendments include a ban on high-pressure hydrofracking within the rock formations in the Delaware River Basin. It also includes language to allow for the dumping of frack waste and removal of water from the Basin under certain circumstances.

“The Rules are out and the DRBC is proposing to ban fracking in this part of the Basin. We believe this is a good first step in protecting the Delaware Valley but more needs to be done. We must ban all fracking in the entire region to properly protect the drinking water. We also have serious concerns with the part of the rules that allow, with conditions, the bringing in and taking out of wastewater related to fracking. We are urging the DRBC to extend the comment period and add more hearings so that the public has more time to understand these rules and have a say,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We are calling on the DRBC to remove the parts of the rules that allow the dumping and treatment of fracking waste, or taking of water out of the Basin. We want the DRBC to protect the Basin by banning all dangerous fracking activities in the entire basin. Banning fracking but then allowing the dumping of fracking waste undoes the whole purpose of the ban in the first place, which is to protect our water.”

In 2010 the DRBC prohibited permitting for natural gas extraction projects in the Delaware River Basin while they study its potential impacts on water resources, a de-facto moratorium that does not allow permits to be issued until natural gas regulations are adopted. Since 2010, the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence and on-the-ground experience where fracking has wreaked havoc prove that fracking simply isn’t safe.

“You do not protect the Basin from fracking by allowing the dumping of fracking waste. This is a dirty water deal hidden behind a fracking ban. We would be better off keeping the moratorium in place in the entire basin then having a partial ban that actually allows the dumping of fracking waste. Dumping fracking wastewater is dangerous because it contains over 600 different toxic chemicals, many of them carcinogenic. This could lead to pollution and contaminated drinking water. The DRBC needs to not only implement this ban but also be sure not to turn the Basin into a dumping ground for fracking waste water,” said Jeff Tittel. “We would oppose any deal to get a fracking ban that allows dumping fracking wastewater in the Basin. If this was a deal, it would be the worst deal since the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees.”

Fracking involves injecting huge amounts of water and chemicals in rock formations that can pollute surrounding aquifers and waterways. This requires mixing millions of gallons of water with toxic chemicals including volatile organic chemicals like benzene, methyl benzene, formaldehyde, and others that are linked to cancer. The process also releases toxic chemicals like arsenic and mercury that are naturally trapped in the shale. The average well uses 2.5 to 4.5 million gallons of water for fracking, many wells are fracked two to three times. Drilling will also require trillions of gallons of water.

“We have fought for ten years to ban fracking and the dumping of frack waste in the Basin. We will continue that fight until it becomes a permanent ban. Passing a resolution to ban fracking that allows for the dumping of fracking waste is an oxymoron. The people of the Delaware River Valley want to be protected from all forms of fracking, including the contaminated waste that comes from it. Unless they remove these dangerous additions, we will oppose this resolution and instead fight for better protections from dangerous fracking! This resolution is like buying land for open space but turning it into toxic landfill,” Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We want to ban fracking in the Delaware and we do not want anyone to dump on the River either. We fought for ten years to ban fracking and will keep fighting to protect the Basin from fracking and fracking waste. Don’t Frack the Delaware, or Dump on it either!”

Jamie Zaccaria

New Jersey Sierra Club