Middletown Ordinance Bans Use of Chemical Waste From Fracking
Middletown Press, January 5, 2017
By Kathleen Thompson
MIDDLETOWN -- City councilors voted 10-2 on Tuesday to ban fracking waste within city limits, joining nearly a dozen other municipalities in the state passing similar measures.
“The council supports keeping poisons out of the ground here,” Mayor Daniel Drew said Wednesday. “It seems a no-brainer.”
The Town of Windsor passed a similar ordinance Tuesday prohibiting fracked waste, as both municipalities take a critical step to protect residents from dangers associated with oil and gas drilling waste, according to Jen Siskind, a local coordinator for Food & Water Watch.
“Hats off to the Middletown and Windsor residents who saw this through and encouraged their leaders to act,” Siskind said in a press release. “More towns across Connecticut need to follow this type of leadership.”
Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly referred to as fracking, is the process by which oil and natural gas are released from shale deposits deep in the earth. Fracking involves drilling wells and injecting a combination of water, chemicals and sand into the earth to release the natural gas.
The General Assembly’s moratorium banning fracking waste in Connecticut defines fracking as the use of drilling and injection of materials to extract natural gas. Fracking waste generated from oil extraction is not included in the moratorium.
Fracking, which contributes to domestic energy production, has also caused concerns about toxicity of waste generated during the process, whether it is the resurfacing of the water that was injected or other ground water that surfaces with the natural gas. A recent Yale School of Public Health study found that most of the more than 1,000 chemicals often used in fracking have been known to cause developmental and reproductive health problems.
The ordinance will prohibit the deposit and/or use on city streets and land of toxic fracking waste trucked through Connecticut from Pennsylvania, according to resident Carolyn Shaw, who spearheaded the local effort.
“The city’s legal department has drafted an ordinance using tough language befitting the county seat of Middlesex County,” Shaw wrote in a recent letter to the editor. “In our state, when a majority of towns pass fracking ordinances, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will be encouraged to turn the existing temporary moratorium on the deposit and use of fracking waste into an outright permanent ban.”
Fracking waste and cancer back to top
Chemicals associated with fracking waste have been linked to cancers, multiple organ damage, neurological impairment, birth defects, sterility and developmental health problems, according to a press release from FWW.
“When I heard Food & Water Watch recruiting people to support local waste bans, I joined up,” said Shaw, a 45-year city resident. “I’ve been gratified by the way town leaders and legal counselors added their voices to our citizens’ committee efforts.”
Resident Dortha Cool Willetts said in a prepared statement that she has long been aware of dangers posed by 1,000 or more unidentified chemicals contained in gas-oil fracking waste.
“I want to protect the health of our community — citizens, the water and the soil — from these dangers as well to protect my own health, Willetts said in the press release.
Towns in Litchfield, Middlesex, Tolland and Windham counties have passed local waste bans — including Branford, Washington, Coventry, Mansfield, Portland, Andover, Ashford and Windham, which includes the city of Willimantic.
“It’s a great first step,” said council member Robert Blanchard, giving kudos to “various activists that came together to take action as community to ban dangerous waste.”
Towns and cities are empowered to create policy where the state has fallen short on banning fracking waste.
“We will build on it, add specifics to give it teeth that it needs to be more effective,” Blanchard added.
Republican Councilors Seb Giuliano and Deborah Klekowski voted against the measure.
An informational presentation will be offered Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Russell Library Hubbard Room to examine the ban of chemical toxins and radioactive materials, contamination and human health risks from fracking wastes. A powerpoint presentation including videos, photos and science-based resources will be provided.