Fontana Asks Buffalo Sewer Authority for Answers on Frack Fluid
by Geoff Kelly - posted 5:35 pm, February 3, 2011
In recent weeks we’ve reported that the Buffalo Sewer Authority has been the recipient of fracking waste from natural gas wells drilled by US Energy, a Getzville company. You can read the articles here, here, and here.
Today, Lovejoy Common Councilman Rich Fontana filed a resolution calling for Buffalo Sewer Authority Commissioner David Comerford to appear before the Council to answer questions about his agency accepting wastewater produced by fracking, which entails pumping a mixture of sand, water, and a variety of hazardous chemicals into the ground to free natural gas.
The Common Council is scheduled to vote on a measure that would ban the practice of fracking within city limits on Tuesday, February 8.
Here’s Fontana’s resolution:
By: Richard Fontana
RE: Buffalo Sewer Authority Policy for treatment of Natural Gas Drilling (Hydro-fracking) Flow Back Fluids and frack water.
WHEREAS, Since 2008, gas drilling companies have been flocking to the Marcellus Shale, a rock bed the size of Greece that partially lies beneath New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. The Marcellus Shale, according to some geologists, is capable of supplying the entire country’s natural gas needs for up to two decades. However, the mechanism for extracting the natural gas is through vertical or horizontal hydraulic fracturing. “Hydro-fracking,” as this process is known, remains controversial but is increasingly being utilized for natural gas extraction; and
WHEREAS, Hydro-fracking utilizes surface and ground water mixed with acid, anti-bacterial agents, friction reducers, sand, additives and numerous chemicals, including such known carcinogens such as methanol, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, naphthalene, benzene, toluene and xylene, which is then pumped into wells and blasted into rock formations to release the natural gas trapped inside the rocks. This process has also been know to release radioactive elements such as radon and uranium, which are naturally occurring within the rock formations; and
WHEREAS, Once the rock is fractured, between 15 to 40 percent of the water comes back up the well as flow back fluid. The flow back fluid or “frack water” which exits the well can be five times saltier than sea water and the longer that “frack water” stays in the ground. the more salts (sulfates and chlorides) and sediments collect in the water. In some circumstances, conventional sewage and drinking water treatment plants are unable to remove these salts, chemicals, radioactive elements and other additives; and
WHEREAS, In Medina, NY, the US Energy Development Corporation operates hydro-fracking wells that generate flow back fluid or “frack water,” which is being transported to either the Warren Pennsylvania Treatment Plant or the Buffalo Sewer Authority in Buffalo, N.Y. for treatment; and
WHEREAS, In an Artvoice News Article dated January 24, 2011, Buffalo Sewer Authority Commissioner David Comerford was quoted as saying that the Buffalo Sewer Authority does not receive “frack water.” In this same article, Commissioner Comerford stated that the wastewater that the Buffalo Sewer Authority receives is the result of US Energy Development Corporation contracts with Waste Water Technology, which state that this wastewater discharge comes from “runoff” water. According to the Artvoice Article, the Buffalo Sewer Authority tests this water that they are receiving three times a year, and thus far no contaminants have been discovered; and
WHEREAS, If there is any possibility that the Buffalo Sewer Authority is flushing frack water into the Niagara River or related bodies of water, this could have far reaching ramifications on the health, safety and welfare of local residents. Numerous unanswered questions remain at this time regarding the safety of frack water from hydro-fracking, as well as whether the Buffalo Sewer Authority is either properly licensed or equipped to accept hydro-fracking “frack water,” which may contain chemicals and compounds that they are unable to treat.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED,
That the Common Council respectfully requests that Buffalo Sewer Authority Commissioner David Comerford appear before the Common Council to discuss the capacity and capability of the Buffalo Sewer Authority to handle hydro-fracking flow back fluids or “frack water,” that the Commissioner furnish a list to the Council of those chemicals that the Buffalo Sewer Authority is capable of successfully treating with regard to hydrofracking “frack water,” and that the Commisioner furnish a copy of the Buffalo Sewer Authority’s policy, if one currently exists, regarding the acceptance and treatment of “frack water.”
Common Council Majority Leader
Lovejoy District Council Member