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NEWS: Calzavara says Niagara Falls fracking-treatment proposal has Great Lakes implications

The Niagara Gazette reports, “Among the problems the (Niagara Falls, New York water) board faces in the future is replacing the annual $1.9 million in payments from Occidental Chemical Corp. The payments stop in 2014, which means more revenue must be found. Though the board is not currently in favor of any such decision, one option could be to begin treating chemical-infused hydraulic fracturing — or hydrofracking — wastewater. …Given the unknown nature of chemical compounds used in hydrofracking, no information is available to determine what is needed to clean the water or to dispose of the remnants once it’s completed.”

Council of Canadians Ontario-Quebec regional organizer Mark Calzavara was at the public meeting of the Niagara Falls Water Board last night. The newspaper reports, “‘Once you get hooked on the money they do offer, you can’t ever say no,’ said Mark Calzavara, a Toronto resident who works for a non-profit organization in the water business. ‘It’s an irresponsible industry. You’re part of the Great Lakes basin. The way you treat people downstream from you will be looked at by the people upstream.'”

“The board has maintained a long-standing opposition to hydrofracking and cleaning the byproducts. Though the board is interested in finding new revenues, board member Thomas Vitello said the health of the environment and the people in the area shouldn’t be compromised. ‘As a group over the past several years, I think this board has done the things it has needed to do,’ he said. ‘We’re always considering new revenues, but not when it will jeopardize the health of the community.'”

The Gazette has previously reported, “Officials from the Falls water board are taking a closer look at elements of hydraulic fracturing fluid treatment to determine if the process may offer any benefits to the city’s wastewater system which has been dealing with financial problems for several years amid the decline of population and industry in Niagara Falls. The board cannot move forward with any plan to accept hydrofracking waste until the state Department of Environmental Conservation completes its study of the process. The DEC is currently accepting public comment on the state’s revised draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Comments will be accepted through Dec. 12.”

On September 29, the Toronto Star reported, “Toronto’s drinking water could be at risk due to a recent proposal to treat toxic waste at a plant on the New York side of Lake Ontario. The Niagara Falls Water Board is exploring the possibility of treating excess fluid from fracking in the Adirondacks. The chemical-laden liquid would be transported to an existing waste water plant (in Niagara Falls, New York) along the shores of Lake Ontario, home to an expansive ecosystem and the source of drinking water for more than 9 million people. …The Council of Canadians issued a letter to the board on (September 29), suggesting waste water facilities are rarely able to fully decontaminate fracking fluid.” On October 4, the Niagara This Week editorial board wrote, “There’s concern about what will be released into Lake Ontario and the Niagara River if the fracking water is treated. …Ontario and New York State have a long history of responsible co-management of our shared water resources… Hopefully, our two governments will work closely on this issue. If there’s any risk to our drinking water supply, they should ban the treating of fracking water at the sewage treatment plant.” On October 31, the Niagara-on-the-Lake town council passed a motion calling for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and the treatment of fracking wastewater within the Great Lakes Basin.

For Council of Canadians blogs on the hydrofracking wastewater treatment plan in Niagara Falls, please go to http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22niagara+falls%22.