County to back Senecas in opposing fracking waste plant 3/13/2018

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County to back Senecas in opposing fracking waste plant

    • By Rick Miller, County Reporter

Cattaraugus County lawmakers are expected to vote this week to support the Seneca Nation of Indians in their opposition to a Coudersport, Pa. plant that would treat fracking wastes and discharge it into the Allegheny River.

Two Salamanca Democrats, County Legislature Vice Chairman Susan Labuhn and David Koch, have drafted a resolution of support for the Seneca Nation in its opposition to the treatment plant proposed by Pittsburgh-based Epiphany Allegheny LLC.

It will be offered for immediate consideration at Wednesday’s county legislature meeting.

The resolution was not prefiled for committee action last Wednesday, but Koch discussed it during the Human Services Committee.

Koch said supporting the Seneca Nation in opposition to the treatment plant for fracking wastes made sense. Much of the waste is brine, but the water contains chemicals and can have traces of radioactivity as well.

It would have an impact on Portville, Olean and Salamanca as well as the county’s Onoville Marina on the Allegheny Reservoir, Koch said. “The Army Corps of Engineers is opposed,” he said.

Labuhn said treating the fracking wastes and discharging them into the Allegheny River would affect not only aquatic life, but wildlife that depends on the river.

Democrat Barbara Hastings of Allegany said the discharge into the river of any radioactive material would raise potential health issues.

Legislature Chairman James J. Snyder, R-Olean, said he expects county lawmakers “to support the Senecas on this. They are going to be bringing fracking waste from all over and build a huge treatment plant. I commend the Seneca Nation for taking the lead on this. This will put the county on record as being opposed to this.”

The resolution legislators will be voting on supports the Senecas’ efforts to “prohibit and ban the discharge of pollutants and dangerous fracking wastewater into the Allegheny River.”

It also states Cattaraugus County “strongly urges the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection not to issue a discharge permit to Epiphany Allegheny LLC’s project in Coudersport, Pa. until such time as studies conclusively indicate there are no contaminants in the discharge.”

Seneca President Todd Gates said Friday he was “very appreciative of Cattaraugus County’s support” for the Senecas’ position on discharge of the treated fracking waste.

“You know our history,” Gates said. “We are very protective of our natural resources. This is another affront to the Seneca Nation.”

The Seneca Nation of Indians has spoken out passionately against a proposed treatment plant for fracking waste on the banks of the Allegheny River in Coudersport, Pa.

There is a lot of passion on this issue on the part of the Senecas – both individually and the Tribal Council.

“We are ahead of the game a little bit,” Gates said in an interview with the Olean Times Herald. “The federal government has to look at it. The Coudersport Area Municipal Authority has to agree to it. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection also has a role. It’s still in the early stages.”

Gates said about 150 Senecas attended last Monday’s Coudersport Area Municipal Authority to ask questions and state facts of the effects of the treated fracking waste downstream on the Allegheny River.

“Ohi:yo’ means ‘beautiful water,’ and we want to keep it that way,” said Seneca Nation Treasurer Maurice A. John, Sr., who was one of several Seneca speakers at the meeting.

“Pennsylvania OK’s fracking. That’s fine, if you can keep the fracking material in Pennsylvania. We don’t live in New York State. We live along the Ohi:yo’, the Allegany Territory. We don’t want to see this pollution occur. What’s at stake tonight is the next generation’s water supply.”

“They said this new treatment takes the radioactivity out of the water,” Gates said, unconvinced.

The Seneca Nation’s Cattaraugus Territory faces the issue of radioactivity in the water and soil from the West Valley Demonstration Project site, Gates noted.

The Nation will press for a total cleanup of the site that drains into Cattaraugus Creek that runs through the territory, Gates said.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)