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Photo by Karen Frantz
By Karen Frantz

State Sens. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and Tony Avella (D-Bayside) blasted the controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing last Thursday, voicing their opposition to allowing the practice in the state because they say it would pose a threat to the city’s drinking water.

“I look at my district. What’s the district surrounded by? Water,” Addabbo said. “So if you’re going to talk about a process that’s going to jeopardize our water, how could you be in favor?”

Addabbo and Avella, joined by Sierra Club representatives, made their remarks at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, at 162-45 Cross Bay Blvd., following the recent announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that he would hold off on a decision to lift a moratorium on so-called fracking until after the conclusion of a new study on its public health impacts.

Fracking is the process of extracting natural gas from rocks by blasting a mix of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into the ground.

Addabbo said the technique has contaminated water in other states that allow it and he is worried carcinogenic and toxic chemicals used in the process could make their way into New York’s water supply.

He dismissed fracking supporters’ arguments that allowing drilling in the state would be a boon to the economically depressed region in the north, saying oil companies bring in their own workers from out of state.

“For zero jobs here and for an economy that needs to be boosted 300 miles away, I say you can’t sacrifice our drinking water,” he said. “Once it’s contaminated, there’s no going back.”

Avella said he was concerned that if New York’s water supply, which he said has the highest quality in the country, became contaminated, it would force the city to build a water filtration plant at a potential cost of $20 billion, which would in turn force property taxes and water bills upward.

He also contended fracking is too dangerous a process and alternative methods for extracting natural gas need to be found.

“We can’t afford this, we don’t need this,” he said. “Let us wait until a better scientific process comes out. The natural gas is going to be there forever. We can afford to wait until the science is there to get it out safely.”

Meanwhile, supporters of fracking who marched in Albany Monday maintained it is a safe process. They said more than 76,000 natural gas wells have been drilled in the state over the last 30 years without one instance of water contamination and there are strict requirements in place for gas wells to protect all groundwater.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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