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Questions remain on fracking proposal

January 2, 2014
By Ann Belcher - , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

BROCTON - Although the public audience at Portland's Town Council meeting numbered only one attendant, Diane Hofner representing the League of Women Voters approached the councilmen recently with environmental concerns.

At the town's last council meeting, several women from LWV approached the council to urge it to take a stance on the transportation of fracking materials across Chautauqua County roadways.

"I'm here tonight to once again ask you to consider the issue of fracking waste, and like some municipalities in our county, ban the use of and transportation of fracking materials. We would like you to please consider it, I'm not sure when the new legislation takes over, but if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know," Hofner urged.

She pointed to concerns such as lack of regulation for truck drivers transporting the waste materials to dump sites; lack of analysis of chemical compounds in waste materials; and the resurfacing of wastewater after being pumped into wells for the purpose of fracking leeching back into drinking water, agriculture production, lakes and streams as prioritized concerns in the region.

"The DEC is worried about lack of control on applications for transportation and use of materials, there's supposed to be an analysis of chemical compounds included. But with the coal ash issue, not one single analysis was listed in any of their records except for the one that Chuck Kelley, our highway superintendent, got for us. For a lot of communities, they don't know the answers to these questions, and we feel it's very important to look at from a small community standpoint, all the way up to the state," she added.

Councilman Rick Man-zella, who asked Hofner for a copy of the revised resolution that the league is urging the council to pass for further review, asked what the state and national League of Women Voters stance is on the issue of fracking in general.

Hofner agreed to come back to the council with an answer on the state and national stance, but added on a local level, "We're not against fracking; deep fracking, yes, we are against that. With deep fracking, there are so many dump areas, that enough is enough. We are against the use of material, the transportation and the storage of the materials. And we are still gathering information."

Town Supervisor Dan Schrantz also noted to Hofner and the council that a local veteran of the gas and well drilling industry informed him that fracking has been taking place at some level for a number of years and would be glad to speak to the council and answer any questions that he can with his expertise, as would the regional representative from the DEC.

The council didn't act on the league's resolution Wednesday evening. The supervisor stated to council members that there was still time to table the issue for more information before the next scheduled year-end meeting on Dec. 30.

Hofner also presented the council with a letter on behalf of herself and members of CROP-PLUS (Concerned Residents of Portland and People Like Us) thanking Kelley for his years of service to Portland and his cooperation working to end the use of coal combustion bottom ash on county roadways. In her letter, she officially requested from Kelley: whether the moratorium on bottom ash is still in effect, how much is stockpiled in the town and when it will be used up; a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet for the sand mixture stockpile in the town; a copy of the purchase agreement used to purchase the alternative sand mixture for road use, with cost and quantity received by the town; how the sand mixture is used to control snow and ice and what the ratio is when mixed with other materials; and how long the sand mixture stockpile is expected to last.



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