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Legislators ban hydrofracking waste

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As they argue over the budget, Westchester County legislators can agree on one thing: they do not want hydrofracking in Westchester.

Yesterday, county legislators unanimously approved legislation that bans the sale, application and disposal of waste from hydrofracking. Penalties for violations, which are unclassified misdemeanors, will include fines up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment up to 30 days.

“This legislation will protect our environment for Westchester residents both today and in the future,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) in a statement. “The toxins involved in hydrofracking waste, including radioactive materials, are among the most harmful known to humankind. We must be hyper-vigilant about keeping these toxins out of the water supply and off our roadways.”

The various waste products from natural gas drilling, or hydraulic fracturing, include water laden with chemical additives, naturally occurring radioactive materials and heavy metals. The new legislation specifically prohibits the introduction of hydrofracking waste into wastewater treatment and sewage treatment facilities within Westchester.

“The multiple kinds of waste produced by hydrofracking all pose significant health and environmental risks,” said Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah) in a statement. “This waste doesn’t belong in our wastewater treatment plants, and it certainly doesn’t belong on the streets and roads that drain into our fragile drinking water supplies.”

Environmental organizations praised the passing of the bill.

“We appreciate the close attention the Westchester legislators paid to this new law, and the expediting of its passage,” said Ellen Weininger, educational outreach coordinator at Grassroots Environmental Education. “The legislators have demonstrated a deep and unwavering commitment to protecting the public health of Westchester residents and safeguarding the environment for future generations.”

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