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Daily News Blog

26
Nov

Take Action: Tell the National Organic Program to Outlaw Fracking Wastewater in Organic Production

(Beyond Pesticides, November 26, 2018) Organic consumers expect that the organic products they buy are grown without toxic chemical inputs. However, oil and gas wastewater (including fracking wastewater) is currently used to irrigate crops. Among the chemicals known to be present in oil and gas wastewater are heavy metals and other chemicals with carcinogenic, reproductive, developmental, endocrine-disrupting, and other toxic effects. When the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) was passed, and regulations adopted, there was no agricultural use of oil and gas wastewater, so the regulations did not address these hazards.

 Tell USDA to Outlaw Fracking Wastewater in Organic Production! 

The Cornucopia Institute has filed a petition for rulemaking, asking that oil and gas wastewater be ruled a prohibited substance in organic production. This issue should be put on the work agenda of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which advises the Secretary about issues concerning NOP. The petition from the Cornucopia Institute contains information that will serve as support for the work agenda item. Over the past several years, the NOSB has received many comments requesting them to address this issue

Among the comments have been suggestions for guidance to farmers faced with contamination from oil and gas activities. The NOSB must play an important role in ensuring that farmers are not unnecessarily harmed by the proposed rulemaking.

Although the exact blend of chemicals in oil and gas wastewater is considered “proprietary,” making it difficult to test food for residues, much is known about individual chemicals that may be present, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes; polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); volatile organic compounds (VOCs); radionuclides; heavy metals; and elevated levels of chloride and bromide. Although toxic effects of many of these chemicals are known, their combined and cumulative effects have not been determined.

Water treatment does not always remove all of the toxic chemicals, and the safety of treated water cannot be determined because it is not possible to determine all chemicals that might be present. OFPA and its regulations give USDA, with advice from the NOSB, the responsibility to ensure the integrity of the organic label. Many of the substances known to be in oil and gas wastewater are prohibited for use in organic production. OFPA prohibits “natural poisons such as arsenic or lead salts that have long-term effects and persist in the environment.” Regulations require that producers “maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality.” USDA must ensure that this relatively new source of contamination does not endanger organic integrity.

Tell USDA to Outlaw Fracking Wastewater in Organic Production!

Letter to USDA

I am writing in support of the petition from the Cornucopia Institute, asking that the Secretary of Agriculture, with advice of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), initiate rulemaking and/or guidance that ensures that contaminated wastewater from oil and gas production is not used in organic production. The petition from the Cornucopia Institute contains information that will serve as support for the work agenda item. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and its regulations give USDA, with advice from the NOSB, the responsibility to ensure the integrity of the organic label.  The NOSB has received many comments on this issue over recent years, including suggestions for guidance to farmers faced with contamination from oil and gas activities. The NOSB must play an important role in ensuring that farmers are not unnecessarily harmed by the proposed rulemaking.

Oil and gas wastewater is currently used to irrigate crops. Many of the substances known to be in oil and gas wastewater are prohibited for use in organic production. OFPA prohibits “natural poisons such as arsenic or lead salts that have long-term effects and persist in the environment.” Regulations require that producers “maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality.” When the Organic Foods Production Act was passed, and regulations adopted, there was no agricultural use of oil and gas wastewater, so the regulations did not address these hazards. USDA must ensure that this relatively new source of contamination does not endanger organic integrity.

The exact blend of chemicals in oil and gas wastewater is considered “proprietary,” making it difficult to test food for residues. However, much is known about individual chemicals that may be present, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes; polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); volatile organic compounds (VOCs); radionuclides; heavy metals; and elevated levels of chloride and bromide. Although toxic effects of many of these chemicals are known, their combined and cumulative effects have not been determined. The chemicals known to be present in oil and gas wastewater are heavy metals and other chemicals with carcinogenic, reproductive, developmental, endocrine-disrupting, and other toxic effects.

Water treatment does not always remove all of the toxic chemicals, and the safety of treated water cannot be determined because it is not possible to determine all chemicals that might be present.

Please initiate action to prohibit the use of oil and gas wastewater in organic production, including adding the petition to the work agenda of the National Organic Standards Board.

Thank you.

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  • Archives

  • Categories

    • ALS (2)
    • Announcements (586)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (4)
    • Aquaculture (23)
    • Aquatic Organisms (8)
    • Beneficials (28)
    • Biodiversity (36)
    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (15)
    • Biomonitoring (28)
    • Birds (4)
    • btomsfiolone (1)
    • Canada (10)
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    • Children/Schools (219)
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    • Environmental Justice (112)
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    • Fracking (3)
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    • Health care (32)
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    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (57)
    • International (287)
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    • Litigation (292)
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    • Microbiome (6)
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