The New York Department of Health (DOH) conducted a draft assessment of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) in early 2012 and concluded that, with appropriate regulation, the practice could be performed safely in the state, according to reports.
The New York Times said Thursday that it had obtained a copy of an eight-page report that was never released to the public “from an expert who did not believe it should be kept secret.” The Albany bureau of Gannett Co. Inc. also reported Thursday that it had obtained a copy of the report.
The document reportedly outlines steps regulators with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) would have to take in order to prevent harm to public health from HVHF. Potential risks reportedly included air emissions, water contamination and radioactive materials.
But the DOH reportedly said those risks could be mitigated with appropriate regulation.
“Therefore, significant adverse human health impacts from air emissions associated with HVHF operations are unlikely,” the document said, according to the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, NY, a Gannett paper.
DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis told NGI’s Shale Daily the document obtained by the media was out of date and irrelevant. She declined to say how the media sources obtained it.
“The document is nearly a year old and does not reflect final DEC policy,” DeSantis said Thursday. “The final SGEIS [supplemental generic environmental impact statement] will reflect the review currently under way by DOH and its outside experts. No conclusions should be drawn from this partial, outdated summary.”
In late November, the DEC released 90 pages of documents detailing proposed regulations governing HVHF and set a 30-day public comment period to discuss them (see Shale Daily, Dec. 4, 2012; Dec. 3, 2012; Nov. 29, 2012). The public comment period expires at 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 11. The department said it needed the extension to give DOH Commissioner Nirav Shah more time to complete a health analysis of HVHF.
On Monday the DEC said it had received more than 800 responses so far about the proposed regulations (see Shale Daily, Jan. 2).
The DEC’s proposals include a ban on well stimulation using HVHF within the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, an adjacent 4,000-foot buffer zone, and within 500 feet of private drinking water wells. The agency has also suggested banning well pads and access roads for HVHF within 100-year floodplains, and a requirement that operators disclose the additives used in HVHF.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signaled that he supports HVHF, but under strict regulation and only in localities that welcome it (see Shale Daily, Aug. 8, 2012).
A series of delays in the environmental review has kept a moratorium on HVHF in place since 2008 (see Daily GPI, July 28, 2008).
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