MERIDEN – Two committees voted to ban the storage and treatment of fracking waste in the city this week after residents voiced concerns about health and environmental risks associated with the waste during a public hearing.
Fracking is a method used to extract oil and natural gas from the earth by injecting liquid into the ground. The byproducts of the process can be toxic. Meriden company Tradebe is one of three facilities in the state capable of processing the waste, although they do not currently do so. After treating the waste, it would pass through the city’s water treatment plant and be discharged into the Quinnipiac River.
A state moratorium on fracking waste storage expires in July 2018. Th House passed a bill to ban fracking in May. The bill was tabled by the Senate.
The City Council’s Public Works and Parks & Recreation and Economic Development, Housing and Zoning committees held a special joint meeting and public hearing Wednesday to add a new chapter to City Code addressing hazardous waste. The regulation would prohibit “the storage, disposal, sale, acquisition, transfer, handling, treatment and/or processing” of the waste within the city.
Over a dozen residents attended the public hearing on the matter Wednesday, many voicing concerns about the implications of allowing fracking byproducts to be treated locally should a spill contaminate local waterways.
Quinnipiac River Watershed Association President David James said many of the chemicals contained in the waste do not need to be disclosed by companies due to legal loopholes.
“Why would anyone want to bring something so risky into their community,” James said. “It’s beyond comprehension.”
The proposed ban was approved 3-2 by the city’s Planning Commission on Oct. 11. At that meeting, Republican Commissioner David White voted against the ban, noting “there’s a lot of waste that’s a lot more toxic than fracking waste.”
“I don’t see why fracking waste storage is such a problem,” White said.
Democratic City Councilor Cathy Battista, chairwoman of the Public Works and Parks & Recreation Committee, urged the committees to be proactive, “rather than waiting for something nasty to happen or for the state to come out with some half-baked solution.”
“I don’t think we should wait,” Battista said. “This is extremely important.”
The ban passed both committees with unanimous votes and will be taken up by the full City Council.