The MDTC is encouraging members of the community to attend the Board of Selectmen meeting scheduled for Monday, December 18 to learn about the issue of fracking waste and support the passage of a town ordinance which would effectively ban fracking waste in all its forms. The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. in Meeting Room A at Madison Town Campus. Jennifer Siskind of Food and Water Watch will give a presentation on fracking waste and take follow-up questions at the meeting.

CT Shoreline Indivisible, a local activist group, has been working with Food and Water Watch (FWW) to pass ordinances in our shoreline towns which would ban the storage, disposal or use of fracking waste or any derivative thereof. FWW is a Washington DC-based, non-governmental organization group which focuses on corporate and government accountability relating to food, water, and corporate overreach. A coalition of concerned Madison residents recently sent a letter to the Madison Board of Selectmen asking them to put this matter on their agenda. MDTC member Susan Glantz introduced this issue to the Democratic Town Committee at our November 13 meeting.

What is fracking waste and why should it be banned in Madison? Hydraulic fracturing, also known as hydrofracking, hydrofracturing or “fracking,” is a technique used to extract oil and gas by pumping large volumes of fluids and proppants (small spheroids of solid material) through wells deep into the ground at extremely high pressure to create fractures in the source rock and force oil and gas to the surface where it can be captured. The process uses 3 to 7 million gallons of water per well mixed with sand and complex chemical mixtures. The composition of these chemical mixtures are often withheld as trade secrets making it difficult to know what dangers they might pose to the environment and to public health.

Each year, billions of gallons of liquid wastes and hundreds of thousands of tons of solid wastes are generated from extraction procedures in New York and Pennsylvania which are being processed and shipped out to other states without proper labelling and distributed for a variety of uses including de-icing of roads and as construction fill products. The dangers from chemical and radioactive contamination pose unacceptable risks to health and safety, to municipal and private property values, and to local natural resources, including aquifers that feed into well water and surface waters. The high risk of contamination makes re-use of wastes and by-products a costly endeavor if remediation is necessary. Connecticut towns or private contractors cannot know if toxins have been removed or if radioactivity has been properly tested for, if they source products mixed with fracking waste. Towns reduce risk of contamination by banning this waste and asking contractors to sign a statement that they will not procure or use materials derived from these wastes.

The CT General Assembly has failed three times in five years to ban all of these wastes. Current CT state law is a temporary moratorium with loopholes. It mandates that the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) submit regulations for review by July 1, 2018, and the temporary moratorium only bans some wastes from gas wells, leaving loopholes for other wastes to enter the state. Citizen groups along with town and city officials across Connecticut are passing local ordinances banning all oil & gas drilling, extraction and storage wastes. Connecticut municipalities have legal authority to pass these ordinances, pursuant to CT General Statute 7-148. Passage of ordinances by local municipalities is needed to create comprehensive bans. 32 towns have passed ordinances thus far.