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Proposed policy may allow fracking wastewater to be moved on waterways

Bosc d'Anjou/Flickr

The U.S. Coast Guard has released a proposed policy that would allow fracking wastewater to be transported on waterways around the country. The public has 30 days to weigh in on the issue, and one New York state group is strongly opposed to the plan.

Fracking wastewater contains a mix of chemicals as well as some radioactive materials, and currently isn’t approved for transport on the nation’s rivers and lakes.

Kate Hudson from Riverkeeper, a New York state clean water advocate group, says even though the policy is in its early stages, it raises some serious concerns.

She says the sheer volume of waste that companies would be allowed to move on water is alarming, far outweighing the amount currently shipped in a single truck.

“You increase the volume and you increase the risk of a spill, which would be catastrophic for the environment, for human health, for first responders," Hudson said. "And what are we getting from taking that risk? What are we accomplishing?”

Hudson says any spills would present a major threat to local sources of drinking water, as well as damage to the environment.

Carlos Diaz from the U.S. Coast Guard says if the policy is approved, any shipments would have to comply with strict regulations and testing.

He also made clear that the Coast Guard has no stake in this issue.

“The Coast Guard’s involvement is because we’re a regulatory agency in charge of regulating transport of materials, any materials, through national waterways," Diaz said. "We implement the standards and that’s our involvement.”

The public comment period on the policy is open until the end of November.

WXXI/Finger Lakes Reporter for the Innovation Trail