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Committee OKs fracking wastewater bill

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A bill that would ban the transport and treatment of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in New Jersey was released by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee earlier today.

The Chemistry Council of New Jersey, which represents manufacturers, has raised concerns about the bill's effect on business expenses. In addition, council officials said the bill would violate a 1978 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found that New Jersey couldn't bar waste from another state.

The Chemistry Council's executive director, Hal Bozarth, said the bill "is another example of over-reaching legislation introduced in New Jersey that is a bad solution in search of problem."

The wastewater results from the mixture that is used to drill for natural gas in areas like the Marcellus Shale, in Pennsylvania. The mixture is 90 percent water, 9.5 percent sand and 0.5 percent chemicals, according to the council.

Environmental groups have raised concern about the safety of the wastewater.

"Every truckload of fracking wastewater contains a different toxic mix, making it nearly impossible for wastewater facilities to verify that adequate treatment has taken place before discharging the waste into waterways," said Jim Walsh, regional director of the organization Food & Water Watch. "The risk of water contamination is too great to allow this toxic mix to be brought into the state."

Food & Water Watch contends that other contaminants introduced to the water through the fracking process can be harmful.

New Jersey is currently in a yearlong moratorium ordered by Gov. Chris Christie over fracking inside the state. A vote by the four-state Delaware River Basin Commission over allowing the practice in the basin recently was cancelled after Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said he opposed it.

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