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Video: Hydrofracking demonstrators call for Cuomo, DEC to act

DOWNTOWN BUFFALO -- About two dozen demonstrators this afternoon called on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to keep toxic wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations from being accepted at municipal water treatment plants.

Standing outside the state Department of Environmental Conservation offices at Michigan Avenue and Seneca Street, the picketers also called on the agency to disclose which area treatment plants take such wastewater.

The wastewater, which could contain pollutants including radioactive materials and toxic chemicals, comes from gas-drilling sites utilizing a process known as hydraulic fracturing, also known as hydrofracking, said Rita Yelda, organizer for Frack Action Buffalo.

Demonstrators want Cuomo to issue an executive order declaring the waste "hazardous," which would prevent the treatment of hydrofracking wastewater at municipal plants, Yelda said.

"As we've seen from the New York Times article that was out recently, this is a big problem in Pennsylvania and now it's starting to happen here in New York state, as well," she said.

Last month, the Buffalo Sewer Authority revoked discharge permits for a hauler for U.S. Energy Development Corp. of Getzville, whose operations include drilling for natural gas, after concerns were raised about whether the city facility took in such wastewater.

Here's some information from the DEC about hydrofracking.

The Buffalo Common Council voted to ban hydrofracking last month.

When asked about Frack Action Buffalo's request, agency spokesman Michael Bopp said in an e-mail:

"Because we are in the midst of the environmental review of the hydraulic fracturing process in relation to Marcellus Shale gas drilling we cannot comment on specific issues (for example: wastewater) until the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) is finalized."

The governor's press office did not immediately reply to an e-mailed inquiry on the subject.

--Aaron Besecker

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