TRENTON – Bipartisan legislation Senators Bob Gordon and Jennifer Beck sponsored to prohibit the disposal and treatment of wastes from the practice of hydraulic fracturing – also known as “fracking” – anywhere within the state was today released by a Senate committee.
The sponsors said the measure (S-253) is necessary to prevent potential contamination of the state’s groundwater and sensitive environmental areas by the accidental release of fracking wastes, which can contain carcinogenic and other toxic chemical materials chemicals — including hydrochloric acid, benzene and methanol, among others.
According to a Congressional report issued in 2011, as many as 750 different substances have been used in fracking. Each gas well requires up to 4 million gallons of fluid, meaning that even though the fracking liquids are usually 99 percent water, at that rate up to 40,000 gallons of chemicals could be injected into the ground.
“The liquids used in fracking are a veritable witches brew of toxic substances that are known to be hazardous to humans,” said Gordon (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Why we would ever allow these chemicals to be injected into the ground is one thing, but why we’d welcome them into our state is another thing, entirely. If mishandled, these fracking wastes could lead to an environmental and public health calamity. We can’t take those risks.”
In the fracking process, water mixed with chemicals is injected under pressure into underground shale beds to release trapped natural gas. The wastewater is then pumped back out of the ground and held for treatment and disposal.
“The fracking process is now being examined by EPA and DEP because of serious questions being raised about the chemicals that are used in the process. Currently, not all chemicals used in fracking fluid are required to be disclosed,” said Beck. “Accepting wastewater from other states’ wells is putting our environment, drinking water, and citizens at an unnecessary risk that could potentially cause serious damage.”
Currently, no fracking takes place within New Jersey, but Marcellus shale formations already are under exploration in close-by Pennsylvania and New York. Geologists have identified new shale formations under the northwestern part of the state that may contain tremendous deposits of natural gas that could only be reached via fracking.
The bill was unanimously released by the Environment and Energy Committee, and now is poised for a vote in the full Senate.