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Stop Toxic Wastewater on Pennsylvania Roads

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Toxic drilling wastewater is contaminating Pennsylvania's roads and water—act now to ban this dangerous practice and protect our health and environment.


Pennsylvania's dirt and gravel roads are being treated with wastewater from conventional oil and gas drilling, posing severe risks to public health, the environment, and wildlife. For decades, this dangerous practice has continued under the guise of dust and ice control, but the truth is far more alarming.

The Hidden Dangers

Drilling wastewater contains heavy metals, salts, and radioactive materials. Studies from Penn State University have found that these contaminants exceed health standards and pose significant risks to both humans and the environment1. The wastewater is no more effective than rainwater in controlling dust and often destabilizes the roads, leading to increased maintenance costs1.

Health Hazards

Wastewater spreading is linked to severe health issues. The presence of contaminants like barium, strontium, lithium, iron, manganese, and radioactive radium is especially concerning. Radium, a known carcinogen, poses long-term health risks even at low concentrations2. Dust from treated roads can cause respiratory problems and heart issues, while runoff can contaminate water sources, affecting entire communities3.

Environmental Impact

The environmental consequences of using drilling wastewater on roads are dire. Runoff from these roads can contaminate groundwater and surface water, impacting wildlife and aquatic ecosystems. The high levels of sodium in the wastewater can also destabilize gravel roads, leading to increased dust and maintenance issues2.

Regulatory Failures

In 2018, a temporary ban was placed on wastewater spreading following legal challenges, but loopholes have allowed the practice to continue. Between 2018 and 2020, over 2.3 million gallons of wastewater were spread on roads, often without proper analysis or adherence to state requirements1. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has faced criticism for its lax enforcement and failure to adequately protect the public and environment2.

Call for Action

State Senator Katie Muth has been vocal about the need for stricter regulations. During a virtual public hearing, she emphasized the dangers of spreading toxic, radioactive wastewater on roads and called for legislative action to close existing loopholes and enforce a complete ban4. The oil and gas industry disputes these findings, arguing that wastewater spreading is a cost-effective method for dust control and de-icing. However, the health and environmental risks far outweigh any perceived benefits1.

Join Us in Protecting Our Communities

The future of Pennsylvania's road maintenance practices will have profound implications for its environment and the well-being of its residents. By banning the use of toxic drilling wastewater, we can ensure cleaner water, safer roads, and healthier communities. Sign the petition to demand the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) take immediate action. Your voice can help end this hazardous practice and protect our health and environment.

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The Petition:

To the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection,

We, the undersigned, call for the immediate and permanent ban on the use of drilling wastewater on Pennsylvania roads. This practice poses a significant danger to public health, the environment, and wildlife.

Drilling wastewater contains high levels of heavy metals, salts, and radioactive materials such as barium, strontium, lithium, iron, manganese, and radium. These contaminants exceed health standards and are known to cause severe health issues, including respiratory problems and cancer. The presence of radioactive radium, a known carcinogen, is particularly alarming.

When spread on roads, this toxic wastewater can run off into nearby water sources, contaminating both groundwater and surface water. This not only affects the health of local residents but also threatens wildlife and aquatic ecosystems. The destabilization of gravel roads due to high sodium levels further increases maintenance costs and creates more dust, exacerbating health hazards.

Despite a temporary ban in 2018, loopholes have allowed for the continued application of this hazardous material. It is imperative that the DEP closes these loopholes and enforces a complete ban to protect our communities and natural resources.

By taking these actions, the DEP will ensure a healthier and safer environment for all Pennsylvanians. A future free from the dangers of drilling wastewater is a future where our water sources are clean, our roads are safe, and our wildlife thrives.

We urge the DEP to act swiftly and decisively to end the use of drilling wastewater on Pennsylvania roads.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: