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By James Hufnagel

The following statement and questions were submitted to the Niagara Falls Water Board one month ago by local citizens concerned about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to process toxic frack wastewater at its Buffalo Avenue treatment plant and discharge it into the Niagara River. As of this writing, the Water Board has not responded.

For submission to the Niagara Falls Water Board at the Sept. 22, 2011 public meeting:

Safe water is essential to the health of the people in our community. We understand that the Niagara Falls Water Treatment Plant is in the testing process to determine whether they will be able to treat wastewater from hydraulic fracturing (fracking). As you know, fracking waste contains many toxins and carcinogens, and with the acceptance of such harsh chemicals comes additional risks to our community.

We respectfully call upon the Niagara Falls Water Board to provide the public the following information in response to significant concerns about how treating fracking wastewater would affect the safety and well-being of our community. We request the answers be released to the public before the Niagara Falls Water Board goes forward with accepting fracking wastewater. Thank you for your willingness to address the concerns of the community.

  1. What prompted the Niagara Falls Water Board (NFWB) to pursue the treatment of fracking waste?
  2. When did the NFWB begin testing of hydrofracking waste? How much water has been accepted for testing? When will testing be complete and what testing has been completed to date?
  3. How much wastewater would be accepted on a daily basis and from how many different drilling companies?
  4. Why has the NFWB hired E3 Communications, a public relations firm?
  5. Will you be seeking full disclosure of all of the chemicals used in the water produced from the drilling companies?
  6. When will you submit your application for a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) modification to the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)?
  7. If hydrofracking waste is accepted, how often would the DEC test the effluent?
  8. What levels of chemicals are designated as acceptable in the "treated" waste?
  9. Will the headworks analysis (identification of pollutants in pretreated waste) be made public?
  10. Will the public be made aware of the chemicals that are being transported on their streets?
  11. Which International and Great Lakes governing bodies will receive the results of the testing?
  12. How will the public Annual Drinking Water Quality reports be expanded to show the public that testing of effluent has been performed for any and all potential contaminants used in the process of drilling for oil/gas?
  13. What are the indications that the Niagara Falls treatment plant can successfully treat drilling wastewater?
  14. What chemicals have been found to be untreatable?
  15. What process is used to remove radioactivity? What levels of radioactivity are left after treatment?
  16. With the Niagara River already on the 303(d) Clean Water Act list of impaired waterways, and Niagara Falls being a large source of revenue, how can the Board justify adding additional wastewater to the system?
  17. Will each truck of wastewater be tested for chemicals that the SPDES deems treatable?
  18. What emergency plan will be set in place to address the legitimate health and safety concerns of workers, first responders and the public?
  19. What are the regulations for tanker trucks carrying produced water from a drilling site (i.e. gallon limits, placards, bills of lading, hazardous material information)?
  20. What plan is being created in case of an accident with a tanker truck carrying the waste?
  21. What plan has New York state created to bring this waste to the region? Will it be traveling on truck or rail?
  22. Will the solids from the waste be transported from the Niagara Falls Water Treatment Plant by truck or rail? Where will they be delivered?
  23. How much revenue will this be bringing in? Where will the money go?
  24. What are the costs associated with upgrading the plant or modifying the facilities to handle the cleaning of this wastewater in high volume? Who would pay for these upgrades and modifications? What are the daily costs associated with the treatment of the waste?
  25. What liabilities might the city of Niagara Falls or the County of Niagara encounter with the potential for accidents and degradations of infrastructure and roads from treating the waste? What plan is in place to address the degradation from the hundreds of trucks that will be coming in? Who will pay for the repairs?
We would like to thank you for your participation in this effort to keep the public informed of activities that affect health and safety.

Last week the Wall Street Journal and the widely read website RealClearPolitics.com, the latest of several national media outlets to pick up on the story, reported on the local frackwater treatment controversy.

"They're moving away from the chemical industry because the chemical industry is moving away from them, and it's time to start a new economy," stated famed Love Canal activist Lois Gibbs, as quoted in the article, "and the new economy is certainly not taking chemical waste."

"Niagara Falls is known for its tourism, its beautiful scenery," Rita Yelda, of WNY Drilling Defense, said. "A large part of our revenue is tourism, people coming in to see Niagara Falls. How will that be impacted by the increased truck traffic and what they're releasing into Niagara Falls?"

Meanwhile, Andrew Cuomo -- the governor who short-circuited a $100 million New York Power Authority aid package promised to Niagara County, wants to convey even more of our hydropower downstate, and is making us grovel with 10 other regions statewide for a pittance of economic development aid that consists of our tax dollars to begin with -- chuckles it up with his New York City friends when he tells them how he plans to give us a golden frackwater shower.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Oct. 25, 2011