Kennedy Aims to Close the Door on Fracking Waste in Connecticut
Legislation to Permanently Ban Fracking Waste from Connecticut Receives Unanimous, Bipartisan Environment Committee Passage
Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford) led the unanimous, bipartisan Environment Committee passage of legislation that seeks to make permanent Connecticut’s current moratorium on fracking waste. Connecticut placed a temporary moratorium on fracking waste three years ago, but the growing evidence of the waste’s public health risks led committee action to make the ban permanent.
“Fracking is a dangerous process that generates millions of gallons of wastewater and has been linked to serious health and environmental consequences,” said Senator Kennedy, Co-Chair of the Environment Committee. “The people of Connecticut have spoken very loudly in support of this ban, and I agree with them. There are currently no foolproof methods for storing and disposing of fracking waste, and its presence within our borders presents severe risks to our safety and that of the water in our state. That is why I supported this bill and will continue working advocates and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle until it is passed and Connecticut adopts a permanent ban on fracking waste.”
Fracking, which is also known as “hydraulic fracturing,” is a drilling technique where an “L” shaped bore is made in the ground, which is then injected with water mixed with sand and chemicals under high pressure. This creates underground fissures that allow otherwise hard-to-reach deposits of natural gas to flow back to the surface. A single gas well made by fracking may create two to four million gallons of wastewater which can be radioactive and is often pumped back into the ground in another round of fracking. Although there is no fracking in Connecticut, many public health activists are concerned that waste from Pennsylvania and other states could end up being dumped in Connecticut.
House Bill 6329 bans the collecting, storing, handling, transporting, disposing or using of fracking waste in Connecticut. Connecticut has had a moratorium on fracking waste since 2014, which was due to expire following the adoption of regulations by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). Overwhelming public outcry against the expiration of the ban led Senator Kennedy and his colleagues on the Environment Committee to draft and pass HB 6329.
Nearly 200 people submitted testimony in support of the fracking waste ban at a public hearing earlier this year. Among those who testified were several residents of Branford, which recently became the eighth Connecticut municipality to adopt a local ordinance banning the storage, disposal or treatment of fracking waste.
Chris Sullivan, of Branford, testified that an outright ban is the only responsible way to protect state waterways and maintain the safety of groundwater wells, which Branford and many other communities rely on for drinking water. Sullivan testified that “where fracking waste storage and treatment facilities have been permitted, they have failed, releasing contaminants into the environment. A recent EPA report in 2015 catalogued 457 spill events at these facilities. Over 330 of these spills were related to storage devices, equipment or hoses. The cause of the spill was most often human error (33 percent) and equipment failure (27 percent). There is no level of detail in any sort of DEEP permit that can prevent these causes of fracking waste spillage. This data shows why Connecticut must simply eliminate the toxic risk of fracking waste from our state as opposed to attempt to regulate it.”
Most companies that engage in fracking will not disclose the particular chemicals that go into the wells they dig, and what by-products are produced. This means that most shipments of fracking waste have unknown, undisclosed contents. This wastewater contains hazardous and toxic contaminants, and techniques for safe disposal or treatment have not yet been developed.