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Jerusalem doesn't want wastewater trucks on roads

JERUSALEM—Discussion of drilling for natural gas in the region and issues related to wastewater from the process occupied half of the Jan. 20 meeting of the Jerusalem town board.
The topic has received attention recently because  the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) was made lead agency for a proposed wastewater disposal well in the Town of Pulteney.
Town resident Peter Gamba addressed the board, telling councilmen the type of well drilling is different than previous practices and there is a thousand fold increase in the amount of fresh water needed for the process. He said wastewater is transported to disposal well sites by truck. Gamba said he is trying to alert towns to the fact that this type of increase in heavy truck traffic can lead to road damage. He said Yates County may try to anticipate the cost of road repairs and find ways to have those costs covered by the drilling companies. One solution could be a conservation law that would allow regulation by the town, putting the legal responsibility for any damage on the drilling company.
Wayne Ackart, engineer for the Town of Jerusalem, added his commenting, stating, “I have had some experience with transport of waste into deep wells. I am extremely concerned about the proposal. We are on the fringe of a good yielding Marcellus Shale. The problem is where most wells will be initially, We might not know for two or three years if we have a problem, then it’s too late. It seems to me one thing to fight is contaminated surface and ground water being injected into ours. We’d become the dumping ground. Once one is permitted, look out. It’s a real cause for concern. I would like to see municipalities pull together.”
Town resident Vaughan Baker said, “Marcellus Shale is radioactive. You have a regulation on the books on transporting radioactive waste.” Councilman Neil Simmons addressed another concern stating, “They would be drawing water when the lake is down in the spring and fall and busting the roads. It’s a bad deal all around. We’ve got our work cut our for us.” Yates County legislature chairman Taylor Fitch commented, “I would like to each municipality to have similar laws. I’ll get this on the next county legislature agenda.”
The issue drew increased attention after the naming of DEC as the lead agency and an old well in the Town of Pulteney was identified as a possible wastewater disposal site. Interested agencies are notified of potential projects that could impact them.  However, very few were notified, including the town. Establishing that use for the well would require a special use permit which can only be issued by the town planning board. As of Jan. 13, no request for a special use permit has been received.
In other business: Simmons spoke briefly about the proposed cultural and natural history museum. A site in Keuka Lake State Park is one of five finalists being considered by museum organizers for the $40 million facility.
• Councilman Mike Folts asked about new cost figure for the state project to renovate Route 54A. Councilman Ray Stewart said it is possible the latest figure of $5.6 million is the stimulus money for the project which was estimated at a cost of $11 to $12 million.
The next meeting of the Jerusalem town board will be at 7 p.m. on Feb. 17.  

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