EPA Sees Risks to Water, Workers In New York Fracking Rules – ProPublica

New York’s emerging plan to regulate natural gas drilling in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale needs to go further to safeguard drinking water, environmentally sensitive areas and gas industry workers, the U.S.

…The EPA’s comments, in a series of letters this week to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, are significant because they suggest the agency will be watching closely as states in the Northeast and Midwest embrace new drilling technologies to tap vast reserves of shale gas.

…The EPA’s comments are among 20,000 the state has received on its proposed plan to regulate the environmental effects of drilling.   Many of the EPA’s comments focus on how the state DEC will handle the chemically tainted wastewater from the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

…In its comments, the EPA pointed out that New York’s current permitting system for water treatment plants doesn’t include limits on pollutants frequently contained in drilling wastewater, such as radionuclides, which can cause cancer at high levels.

…And while the DEC’s proposed rules suggest limits on radioactive elements such as radium, the EPA said it’s not clear who would be “responsible for addressing the potential health and safety issues” related to radiation exposure.

…”At a minimum, the human health risks to the site workers from radon and its decay products should be assessed along with the associated treatment technologies such as aeration systems or holding for decay,” the agency wrote.

…To deal with the excess water, the DEC listed a number of out-of-state treatment plants as potential recipients, but the EPA warned that several of the plants probably don’t have the capacity to handle more wastewater.

…Industry and green groups have split over the DEC’s proposed regulations, with drillers saying they are too restrictive and environmentalists contending they don’t go far enough.

…In August, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens told ProPublica that he didn’t think there would be much to learn from the EPA study and that the state was far ahead of the federal agency in its response to drilling.

Read the full story: EPA Sees Risks to Water, Workers In New York Fracking Rules – ProPublica.

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