Contaminated water: Fracking could contaminate city water: Addabbo – Avella lauds decision to allow review of fracking health effects.

Posted in: Drinking Water News, Fracking, Ground Water News, Health effects, Water Contamination
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Article courtesy of Karen Frantz | October 19, 2013 | timesledger | Shared as educational material only

Photo by Karen Frantz
Sens. Tony Avella (c.) and Joseph Addabbo (second from l.) spoke out about the potential dangers of hydraulic fracturing, which they say includes water contamination, at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach last week. Members of the Sierra Club were also at the press conference.
By Karen Frantz

State Sens. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and Tony Avella (D-Bayside) blasted the controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing last Thursday, voicing their opposition to allowing the practice in the state because they say it would pose a threat to the city’s drinking water.

“I look at my district. What’s the district surrounded by? Water,” Addabbo said. “So if you’re going to talk about a process that’s going to jeopardize our water, how could you be in favor?”

Addabbo and Avella, joined by Sierra Club representatives, made their remarks at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, at 162-45 Cross Bay Blvd., following the recent announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that he would hold off on a decision to lift a moratorium on so-called fracking until after the conclusion of a new study on its public health impacts.

Fracking is the process of extracting natural gas from rocks by blasting a mix of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into the ground.

Addabbo said the technique has contaminated water in other states that allow it and he is worried carcinogenic and toxic chemicals used in the process could make their way into New York’s water supply.

He dismissed fracking supporters’ arguments that allowing drilling in the state would be a boon to the economically depressed region in the north, saying oil companies bring in their own workers from out of state.

“For zero jobs here and for an economy that needs to be boosted 300 miles away, I say you can’t sacrifice our drinking water,” he said. “Once it’s contaminated, there’s no going back.”

Avella said he was concerned that if New York’s water supply, which he said has the highest quality in the country, became contaminated, it would force the city to build a water filtration plant at a potential cost of $20 billion, which would in turn force property taxes and water bills upward.

He also contended fracking is too dangerous a process and alternative methods for extracting natural gas need to be found.

“We can’t afford this, we don’t need this,” he said. “Let us wait until a better scientific process comes out. The natural gas is going to be there forever. We can afford to wait until the science is there to get it out safely.”

Meanwhile, supporters of fracking who marched in Albany Monday maintained it is a safe process. They said more than 76,000 natural gas wells have been drilled in the state over the last 30 years without one instance of water contamination and there are strict requirements in place for gas wells to protect all groundwater.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

©2012 Community Newspaper Group

Avella lauds decision to allow review of fracking health effects.

Article courtesy of Karen Frantz | September 28, 2012 | timesledger | Shared as educational material only

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) lauded last Thursday’s announcement by the state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner that he has asked the state Department of Health to conduct a review of a health impact study on the controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing.

“While this decision is not the independent study that I and other environmental advocates have been calling for, it is a positive step in the right direction,” he said. “Hydrofracking is an extremely dangerous drilling practice and this issue is too important and its effects too consequential to not have any type of expert health review.”

Avella, a staunch opponent of fracking and ranking minority member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, has argued that allowing hydrofracking in New York state, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo is considering, would pose a threat to the city’s drinking water supply.

When DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens announced the decision, he acknowledged the government review is not the type of independent assessment some people were calling for, but defended his decision not to go that route.

“I believe deferring to an outside group or entity would be an inappropriate delegation of a governmental responsibility,” DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said in a statement. “It is the government’s responsibility to ensure objectivity and a review directed by DEC and the Department of Health is without bias.”

The DEC is conducting a four-year study on the potential environmental and health impact of hydrofracking, and Cuomo is expected to allow limited drilling in the Marcellus Shale, a large rock formation that lies under parts of New York and other states, once the study concludes.

Fracking involves injecting high volumes of water and chemicals into the ground in order to break apart shale and extract natural gas.

Martens said the DEC received approximately 80,000 comments about the study, many of them focused on the potential health impacts of fracking, and he met with numerous groups who were not satisfied with the DEC’s study and demanded an independent review.

Martens said, however, he decided not to allow such a review because he believes the chances were too high that an independent reviewer would bring in bias or conflicts of interest to the process, and he implied a government review would be more legally defensible than would an outside review.

Martens said he asked DOH Commissioner Nirav Shah to conduct the review and appoint an outside panel of experts to help advise him in the process.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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©2012 Community Newspaper Group

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