Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Press Release

EPA Bans Fracking Wastewater from Sewage Treatment Plants

WASHINGTON -

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has banned fracking wastewater from public sewage plants, citing the inability of these plants to handle toxic and radioactive pollutants.

Clean water and public health advocates, along with more than 30,000 Americans, had submitted comments in favor of the EPA rule, finalized earlier this week.

"Allowing toxic, radioactive wastewater to be treated at the same place as dirty bathwater defies all logic," said Rachel Richardson, Stop Drilling Program director for Environment America. "This is a commonsense step to help protect our water and our health from the dangers of fracking."

The final rule formalizes a practice in place since 2011, when fracking chemicals were detected in some Pennsylvania rivers, and officials ordered 15 treatment plants to stop accepting and treating fracking waste.
 
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process by which large volumes of water along with sand and toxic chemicals are injected underground to extract shale gas. Much of this fracking fluid mixture returns to the surface as toxic wastewater, often with radioactive elements.
 
Municipal water treatment plants, which treat waste and then release it into drinking water supplies, aren’t suited to treat such hazards. The mixture of bromides in wastewater and the chlorine used at sewage treatments plants also can produce a toxin linked to bladder cancer, miscarriages and still-births.
  
Even under the rule issued this week, fracking wastewater disposal still presents a conundrum for public health and safety. Plants designed to treat fracking waste are far from foolproof, as Duke University researchers found in Pennsylvania. Waste often spills into rivers and streams during storage and shipment. And studies show injecting the waste deep underground is likely causing earthquakes.

While no known municipal treatment plants currently accept fracking waste, the option could have become more attractive to drillers as standards tightened on other waste disposal methods.
  
“Fracking wastewater is a big problem for which there is simply no adequate solution,” said Richardson. “We applaud EPA for taking this step to protect families on the frontlines of fracking. To fully protect our drinking water and the health of our families, we need to ban this practice altogether and transition to 100 percent clean energy.”

###

With Environment America, you protect the places that all of us love and promote core environmental values, such as clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean energy to power our lives. We’re a national network of 29 state environmental groups with members and supporters in every state. Together, we focus on timely, targeted action that wins tangible improvements in the quality of our environment and our lives.

One Year In, Biden Fails to Boost C- Grade on Environment

The Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund assessment indicates the administration's action to deliver on environmental promises "desperately needs improvement."

Jessica Corbett ·


'A No-Brainer': Lawmakers Urge Pelosi to Hold Vote on Stock Trading Ban

"Perhaps this means some of our colleagues will miss out on lucrative investment opportunities," said House members in a bipartisan letter. "We don't care."

Jessica Corbett ·


Virginia Schools Sue Youngkin Mandate Making Masks Optional

The Republican governor wants to allow parents to decide whether their children should wear masks to school to mitigate Covid-19 transmission—guidance at least 58 school districts have no plans to follow.

Julia Conley ·


US Puts Troops on Standby as War Tensions Over Ukraine Mount

The U.K. threatens "lightning war" as military forces mobilize in eastern Europe.

Andrea Germanos ·


Advocacy Group Urges Pfizer to Combat Paxlovid Inequality

"Help end the pandemic this year around the world," one advocate told Pfizer. "Not just in a handful of rich countries."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo