Streams

City Says Fracking May Compromise Water Supply

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

fracking, hydraulic fracturing, frack Batya Lewton, the president of the Coalition for Livable West Side at the last of four public hearings on hydraulic fracturing. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Hundreds of anti-hydraulic fracturing activists rallied outside the Tribeca Performing Arts Center to protest the drilling technique they see as a serious public health hazard. Inside the hearings, a Bloomberg administration official said the city regards proposed state controls on so-called fracking does not guarantee the safety of drinking water.

Paul Rush, Deputy Commissioner in the Department of Environmental Protection, said Albany's drilling plans don't fully take account of the danger to decades-old water tunnels, some of which lie close to geological faults.
"The specific risk to the city's tunnels, which are lined with unreinforced concrete, include direct penetration, differential pressures, microseismic activity, and impacts from migration of fluids and or gas," said Rush, adding that the maps in the state's draft environmental review of fracking leave out some faults identified by the city.
Rush did not provide an estimate of the cost of repairing a tunnel.
Around nine million people in New York City and downstate New York State depend on the unfiltered water that comes from Catskill mountain reservoirs. The state has proposed a buffer zone around the Delaware watershed, but this does not include all tunnels and aqueducts.
Gas drillers say New York sits on a potential gas bonanza. But these hearings were dominated by anti-fracking speakers. In the afternoon session, only two out of around 60 commenters spoke in support of gas drilling.
Separately, state officials announced they have extended the public comment period on gas drilling by 30 days, a move environmentalists cheered. The new deadline to comment is January 11, 2011.
Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, criticized the move in a statement: “while today’s extension of the comment period may seem inconsequential to some, it is in fact a continuation of the existing four-year ban on economic opportunity for Upstate New York."

City officials believe small earthquakes triggered by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, could cause cracks in the concrete lining of tunnels that channel millions of gallons of water to New York City taps every day.

Paul Rush, deputy commissioner at the Department of Environmental Protection, said Albany's drilling plans don't fully take into account the danger to decades-old water tunnels, some of which lie close to geological faults.

"The specific risk to the city's tunnels, which are lined with unreinforced concrete, include direct penetration, differential pressures, microseismic activity, and impacts from migration of fluids and or gas," Rush said, adding that the maps in the state's draft environmental review of fracking leave out some faults identified by the city.

Rush did not provide an estimate of the cost of repairing a tunnel.

Around nine million people in New York City and downstate New York State depend on the unfiltered water that comes from Catskill mountain reservoirs. The state has proposed a buffer zone around the Delaware Watershed, but this does not include all tunnels and aqueducts.

Gas drillers said New York sits on a potential natural gas bonanza. But these hearings were dominated by anti-fracking speakers. In the afternoon session, only two out of approximately 60 commenters spoke in support of fracking.

Separately, state officials extended the public comment period on the proposed regulations by 30 days, a move environmentalists cheered. The new deadline for comment is January 11, 2012.

Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, criticized the move in a statement: “While today’s extension of the comment period may seem inconsequential to some, it is in fact a continuation of the existing four-year ban on economic opportunity for Upstate New York."

 

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Comments [7]

Linda from brooklyn

Why is coverage by WNYC so superficial, reinforcing false stories (that the people in NYC care only about NYC and just want our watershed/supply protected? Ilya knows full well that this is not the case given his attendance at the hearings he 'covered'.

Such biased reporting serves the industry, paving the way for upstate sacrifice zones. The bill to repeal the Safe Drinking Water Act could easily be modified to protect ALL water equally and not just the municipal (or 'public') water systems it currently covers.

We want a ban on this statewide. Thanks, Henry, for highlighting S4220. WNYC, you're not doing your job! (or are you?).

See this for newsworthy topic:
http://gasmain.org/resources.htm

Dec. 02 2011 11:42 AM
Joe from Bayside

http://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/inadequate_regulation_of_hydraulic_fracturing?halliburton.cfm

Check out this site to get an idea of how the gas/oil industry are deceiving us. They are EXEMPT from "Safe Drinking Water Act". This site calls it the Halliburton loophole. If fracking is not a danger to our water, why did they seek and get immunity? If fracking is safe,then prove it by giving up the exemption. Seems to me to be more obvious corporate control of our govt.

Dec. 01 2011 12:09 PM

I am sorry to see such anti-drilling campaign, this is indeed dangerous to western civilization. There is no proven case study, or even theory of how earthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing could harm water supply.
If one worries about microearthquakes from 2-3 km depth, please stop all road trafic and trucks in the vicinity of the tunnels, because they cause much larger shaking in the tunnels. Please do not be ruled by fear, use your brain. Fracking for natural gas is much safer than coal mining and burning in power plants...

Dec. 01 2011 11:08 AM
sane energy

Ilya, Your coverage, and increasingly the coverage at WNYC, is obviously weighted towards the pro-drilling side of this issue. You sat through both sessions of yesterdays hearings and gave Brad Gill the last word? It's like you weren't even listening.

Dec. 01 2011 10:29 AM
zea from queens

Thank you to the students and professionals and family people who went on the record last night. New York State is a great place to live; if only our Governor valued it!
Mario must be so ashamed!

"Oh where, Oh where has our Governor gone??"
(to the tune of 'Oh Where, oh where has my little dog gone')

Dec. 01 2011 08:16 AM
Henry from Harlem

Ban this practice. And, thanks for the article, but it is not about the Catskill watershed only. Or about water only. Some elected officials and "green" groups that actually invest in methan (natural gas) tried that tactic a year ago. Some still seek to "regulate" it and have only some protected areas, but we are too savvy. There is a Ban bill S4220, that is what needs to be pushed, that is what organizations who say they are for a ban need to push, not just fund raising off this issue. Contact your rep today, and remember that direct action gets the goods!

Dec. 01 2011 07:33 AM

If you're pro-fracking, why not put forth the proposal that will address the opponents? Is it because you haven't thought of it? Doesn't take much of a intellect to figure it out. If you don't know the solution, then perhaps you shouldn't be permitted to make a decision on this.

If you're con-fracking, why not offer the solution that provides the protection that you expect? Don't know what it is do you? And haven't figured out how to be a creative problem solver eiher.

A now4yourconsideration perspective

Nov. 30 2011 08:20 PM

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