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Chemung County Worries About Fracking Waste

Written By: Leanne DeRosa
Chemung County Worries About Fracking Waste

ELMIRA (WENY) - We may not have fracking in New York State, but a few local organizations are concerned its effects are making their way to our area.

People for a Healthy Environment, INC., Chemung County Alliance, Elmirans & Friends Against Fracking, Residents for the Preservation of Lowman & Chemung and concerned community members held a rally before the Chemung County Legislature's meeting Tuesday night.

At the rally, Doug Couchon, a founding member of People for A Healthy Environment introduced a new map of New York State that pinpoints communities where fracking infrastructure projects exist that they believe are causing pollution and other health-compromising risks.

Anti-Fracking activists said Chemung County is on that map because the legislature wants to expand the landfill to accommodate fracking waste.

People are concerned because they said this material is radioactive and harmful to our health and environment.

However, the county said this expansion proposal is still under environmental review, and needs to be approved by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The county also said it is not fracking waste, it's only soil.

The anti-fracking activists don't agree.

"The stuff coming up from the Marcellus shale is not soil," Couchon said, "It's pulverized rock laced with heavy metals and other stuff including the radioactivity."

"Do you know how disheartening that is to hear?" Colleen Boland, a member of Elmirans & Friends Against Fracking said. "After 9 months of people going up to the microphone, people from Chemung County, out of Chemung County, experts on this, experts on geology, experts on radioactivity, and they come back and continue to say it's just soil...they haven't heard a thing."

The organizations say they are concerned the drill cuttings and toxic materials will seep into the Chemung River and contaminate our drinking water and environment.

"The science is out there." Boland said. "When you go down a mile in the earth, you're dealing with radioactive elements and heavy metals, they're not meant to be disturbed. We're disturbing them, we're bringing them up. Do they dissipate when they come up? No, they don't. They're right there, and they're in little drill cuttings and they come to New York and they go to our landfill then they go to our water treatment facility...it's insanity."

The members of the local organization told us that they just want feedback from the legislature. Because after 9 months of public comments at meetings, and hundreds of written statements, they want to know the legislature heard their concerns before it's too late.