NYS Exposed: Fracking waste dumped in Finger Lakes landfill

June 27, 2017 10:05 AM

Hundreds of trucks roll into the Seneca Meadows landfill in Seneca Falls every day, dumping your garbage.

But environmental advocates say, for years, trucks carried construction debris straight from Pennsylvania fracking sites.

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"The concerns are that they can contain the hundreds of chemicals that are used during the process, some of these chemicals are known or suspected carcinogens," says Liz Moran, Environmental Advocates of New York.

"Nobody really knows what goes in there," says Bruce Ike.

Bruce Ike can see the landfill from his front yard. The idea of fracking waste being dumped so close to his home concerns him.

"I mean, we got the Finger Lakes, you got a lot of lakes and a lot of water bodies around here," says Ike. "If they contaminate them, the entire tourist system and nine-yards is in jeopardy -- if that's true."

According to a study published by the Environmental Advocates of New York, more than 600,000 tons of hydrofracking waste has been dumped into five different upstate landfills including Seneca Meadows from 2010 to 2011. It includes drilling waste from Pennsylvania fracking sites.

Moran says, "It's easy for waste to come from Pennsylvania and our own drilling operations to landfills that might not be properly equipped to handle that waste."

Drilling waste is the debris, rocks and dirt left behind from construction of a hydrofracking project in places like Pennsylvania. Environmental advocates say it contains dangerous chemicals.

"I would hope the state would crack down on it, if the assessment is true," says Ike.

"We disagree with some of the assertions made by Environmental Advocates," countered Martin Brand, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

The DEC maintains there's "zero evidence" of the drilling waste in landfills polluting landfills or impacting our region. In a statement, Seneca Meadows told us the limited amount of drill cuttings accepted met all non-hazardous waste criteria.

Brand adds, "They are essentially rock, drill cuttings, fragments from the actually drilling operation. Those materials can be accepted at New York State landfills."

Just last week, the DEC released new regulations which would clarify what's prohibited under New York State's ban on fracking from a few years ago. Those proposed changes don't include a ban on the drilling waste.

"We're confident that these facilities can handle the waste that they're allowed to accept and there's no pollution or no impacts related to the drilling wastes accepted at these landfills."

The DEC's new regulations will be open to public comment through July 21st.


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NOTE: Seneca Meadows Landfill disputes Environmental Advocates of NY's claim that they collected fracking drilling waste for two years.  The company say their records show they only collected that type of waste in 2011.

“Seneca Meadows is proud of our 20 year spotless environmental compliance record with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. All industrial waste accepted at our facility must pass a rigorous set of criteria and adhere to a comprehensive approval process. Seneca Meadows was pleased to be entrusted with the safe disposal of non-hazardous, non-radioactive drill cutting waste several years ago. The limited amount of drill cuttings accepted at Seneca Meadows met all non-hazardous waste criteria and was approved for disposal by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.”


Brett Davidsen

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