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Hector board comments on fracking

    HECTOR—The Hector town board unanimously approved sending comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation about the proposed hydraulic fracturing drilling rules, Tuesday, Jan. 10.
    There were at least 45 people in the audience, filling all seats and lining up in the hallway of the town hall’s meeting space.
    Submitted along with the board’s statement will be the petition presented to the town by concerned citizens of Hector urging a ban or a moratorium on hydrofracking.  The letter expressed concerns around issuing licenses to drilling companies using the hydrofracking practice at this time.
    The board specifically listed the area’s inability to handle the wastewater, the instability of well casings (especially when recent evidence of increased seismic activity has been associated with fracking in Ohio), and a lack of disclosure around the chemicals used in fracking fluid.  The board also stated that it believed a study of the health impacts of hydrofracking should be conducted prior to any drilling permits being issued and was critical of the state’s economic study, noting that it had been bid out improperly and given to a contractor known to favor gas industry interests.
    The statement also discussed Hector’s unique rural qualities: its size, the condition of its roads, the proximity to Seneca Lake, the fact that many in the town are dependent on well water, and that the state’s only National Forest falls within the town’s borders.
    Bo Lipari of The Hector Clean Water Initiative said the following: “Moving forward this is a great document for the town. There is much we agree on and can work together on in the year to come.”   However, several others commented that some of the recommendations did not go far enough, questioning the board’s contention that replacing currently used fracking fluids with other substances such as butane, might yield better and safer results, and a recommended setback from the lake of 4,000 feet for any drill sites, should fracking come to New York state.
    Although not mentioned in the letter, additional discussion was held around aquifer protections, with the current DEC plan to mandate that well casings extend 70 feet below any known aquifers.  Supervisor Ben Dickens agreed with one audience member that this was inadequate. Another audience member stated that there are no maps or surveys of aquifers in the town of Hector.  Dickens agreed that this was a source of concern.
    The board’s statement will be available at the Hector town hall at 5097 State Route 227, Burdett, or for viewing on the town’s website:
    Also discussed was the public information meeting on hydrofracking. The date and venue have been established as Saturday, Feb. 4, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Trumansburg High School auditorium.
    In other business: The board voted unanimously to establish Smith Park’s open season as beginning on April 27 and ending Oct. 21. There are no planned fee increases and the 2012 renewal letters have all been sent.
    The board also discussed a proposed plan to move the town’s equipment barn and replacement of highway department equipment.


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