Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fracking waste treated as non-hazardous but can lead to cancer, environmental group says

Fracking waste puts people at risk of exposure to chemicals known to cause cancer, but states are allowed to treat oil and gas waste as non-hazardous and dispose of it with little regard to safety, says a study by the environmental organization Earthworks, David Hasemyer reports for InsideClimate News.

A 1988 Environmental Protection Agency rule "exempted the waste from the stricter disposal requirements required of hazardous substances and allowed the states to establish their own disposal standards," Hasemyer writes. Earthworks, which is often criticized by the oil and gas industry as being consistently biased, "concludes the EPA was wrong when it applied the non-hazardous label to oil-and-gas waste."

The study, which focused on the Marcellus and Utica shale regions, found that in Pennsylvania fracking operations are allowed to store waste in open air pits and spread waste on roads and open land, Hasemyer writes. In West Virginia, solid oil-and-gas waste "does not have to be disposed of in specialized facilities; it can be dumped in municipal landfills."

"In Ohio, Earthworks found no public information available on the number, location or use of oil-and-gas waste pits and impoundments,"  Hasemyer writes. "The state doesn't have specific requirements for the construction and use of pits and impoundments." (Read more)

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