Protect Citizens from Toxic Oil and Gas Waste

Oil and gas waste

Target: Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Goal: Don’t let oil drilling companies expose nearby communities to hazardous waste products

A dangerous oil and gas waste disposal site is proposed next to a small Texas town. The site would lie dangerously close to a school, and citizens worry about air emissions from the hazardous waste. However, oil and gas waste, although filled with numerous cancer-causing toxins, is not considered hazardous in the eyes of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Waste disposal sites containing such waste don’t even require an air emissions permit. Now is the time for the EPA to recognize this waste as dangerous to human health. Oil and gas waste should be considered hazardous.

Toxic sludge from oil and gas production is commonly disposed of in open-air pits or waste ponds, exposing hazardous chemicals to the air. The toxic waste contains volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and sulfur. Volatile organic compounds, the most notable being benzene, can damage human health causing symptoms that can range from a headache to cancer. It’s shocking to know the EPA exempts oil and gas waste from a hazardous label. The reason behind this dates back to 1988, when oil and gas won the exemption from hazardous waste regulation. If oil and gas waste was actually considered hazardous, the cost of disposing of such regulated waste would sky rocket, ultimately slowing down the oil and gas business.

Classifying this contaminated waste as hazardous would mean that open air pits and waste ponds would no longer be acceptable ways to get rid of the waste. All waste considered hazardous requires a seal, meaning no exposure to open air. It’s impossible to know the true impact of oil and gas waste, but in 1987 the EPA estimated that 10 to 70 percent of this waste could be considered hazardous. That was figured before the fracking boom made toxic wastewater even more common.

By signing this petition, you are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to recognize oil and gas waste as hazardous and enforce air emission permits and regulations for all oil and gas related waste facilities.


Dear Administrator McCarthy,

Waste produced by the oil and gas industry contains numerous toxic chemicals. Disposal sites typically store the waste in open air pits or waste ponds. Volatile organic compounds such as benzene, and heavy metals and sulfur, are all present in the toxic sludge found at oil and gas waste facilities. Short term exposure to air polluted with benzene causes headaches and nausea. Long term effects of benzene-polluted air can include anemia, cancer, and leukemia in humans.

With such dramatic risks to human health, oil and gas waste should be classified as hazardous and deemed too dangerous for air exposure. When dealing with such toxic substances, all oil and gas waste facilities should evaluate air emissions to maintain a healthy air quality for neighboring populations. Please take action now to classify oil and gas waste as dangerous and hazardous, and implement air regulations for all oil and gas waste disposal sites.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Care_SMC via Flickr

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