Milo hears more on ‘fracking’

John Christensen

John Halfman of the Finger Lakes Institute and Hobart and William Smith Colleges, presented a comprehensive report to the Milo Town Board June 20 on the practice of hydrofracking in gas wells drilled in the Marcellus Shale formation to extract natural gas. Halfman says the figures reported by both the industry and the opposing environmental groups on the amount of potential gas extractions are no more than educated guesses, colored by their own agendas; gas companies say it’s a lot, and environmental groups say it’s a little.

Halfman believes that fracking will not be an issue in the Finger Lakes because the Marcellus Shale here is too shallow and too thin. Regulations state that hydrofracking can only be done below a minimum depth of 3,000 feet, but the formation here is at about 1,000 feet. He also stated that the layer here is too thin to be very productive. The line of drillable Marcellus Shale coincides very closely to the southern line of the Finger Lakes watershed.

Halfman also stated he does not believe that leakage from the wells is a significant worry, but disposal or treatment of the wastewater from the process is. As much as the unlisted chemicals used in the fracking fluids, the salts extracted from the earth become a significant problem. Often, simple dilution is the method used, but the hundreds of millions of gallons of hyper-salinated water do pose a significant danger to water treatment facilities.

He also advises people to test the water quality of their wells before drilling occurs to establish a pre-drilling parameter.

The public hearing on Milo’s hydrofracking moratorium is scheduled for July 18 at 7 p.m. at the Milo Town Hall in Penn Yan.

Other business on the town’s agenda:

•  INSURANCE: the board will consider the information presented by Scott Sprague of Sprague Insurance in Corning for changing from the county’s self-insurance plan for workers’ compensation, to New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal group. The county must have their decision by July 15.

• LAKE STREET PLAZA PILOT: the board authorized Supervisor John Socha to sign the Payment In Lieu Of Taxes agreement between the town, county, Finger Lakes Economic Development Center, and The Lake Street Plaza. It will benefit the town by $2,000.

•  HIGHWAY: expenses were high this month, especially for the purchase of stone. Payments totaled over $81,000.

•  ZONING: final recommendations are still pending for changes to steep slope regulations and the designation of an adult entertainment zone required by state law.