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Local Law Adopted Governing Oil and Gas Waste

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Local Law Adopted Governing Oil and Gas Waste

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Legislature, by unanimous vote (Legislator Mike Sigler was excused) adopted a new Local Law that prohibits in Tompkins County the sale, application, and disposal of waste associated with oil and natural gas exploration, extraction, and storage activities.  The Law notes that toxins and radioactive materials found in oil and gas waste are detrimental to the public health and should be kept out of the county water supply and off county roadways.  It states, “Due to the significant public health risks, and to ensure the safety of future generations and the natural environment, this Legislature hereby finds it necessary to prohibit the introduction of such waste into treatment facilities, onto roadways, and onto real property located within Tompkins County.”

In 2012, the Legislature passed a resolution prohibiting the use of natural gas and oil by-product brine from hydrofracking on roads and property for which Tompkins County is responsible.  The new Local Law prohibits the application of natural gas or oil waste on any road or real property located within Tompkins County for any purpose; the introduction of such waste into any wastewater treatment facility or solid waste management facility within the County; and any sale, acquisition, storage, handling, treatment, and processing of such waste within Tompkins County. 

Responding to an inquiry from Legislator Dooley Kiefer, County Attorney Jonathan Wood acknowledged enforcement will be a challenge; he said he will consult with other counties that have passed similar laws regarding how enforcement is handled in their jurisdictions.