WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The sale, application and disposal of waste from hydraulic fracturing, which includes radioactive materials, is now banned in Westchester County and punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 or imprisonment up to 30 days.
County legislators voted unanimously on the ban, which will send a message to natural gas extractors that Westchester will not be a “dumping site for this hazardous waste,” said Legislator William Ryan (D-White Plains).
Hydraulic fracturing, called "fracking" by opponents of the drilling technique, is the process of extracting natural gas by injecting mass quantities of water mixed with sand and chemicals deep underground to create pressure to shatter rock layers. This requires a chemical that turns the fluid poisonous, Albert Appleton, former commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Preservation, has said.
Some local governments in the United States use waste from hydraulic fracturing to control ice and dust and maintain or construct roads.
“The toxins involved in hydrofracking waste, including radioactive materials, are among the most harmful known to humankind,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining). “We must be hyper-vigilant about keeping these toxins out of the water supply and off our roadways, and I’m very pleased that all of my colleagues on the board supported these protections.”
The legislation, passed Monday, specifically prohibits disposing of the waste into the county’s wastewater treatment and sewage facilities.
“This waste doesn't belong in our waste water treatment plants, and it certainly doesn't belong on the streets and roads that drain into our fragile drinking water supplies,” Majority Leader Peter Harckham (D-Katonah) said in a statement.