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A key Assembly panel on Monday advanced legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Connie Wagner and Reed Gusciora to protect New Jersey residents from contaminated wastewater produced by the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

“We don’t want this process in New Jersey, and we don’t want the wastewater either,” said Wagner (D-Bergen). “Radioactive water can go elsewhere, especially places that promote and encourage this drilling practice for whatever reason. For me, protecting New Jerseyans and their families are always my priority.”

Fracking is a drilling technique used to expand existing fractures or create new fractures in rock by injecting water, often laced with chemicals, sand, or other substances, and often under high pressure, into or underneath the surface of the rock, typically for the purpose of natural gas exploration and production. The wastewater can be polluted with contaminants such as radium, benzene, barium and strontium.

The measure approved on Monday (A-4231) would prohibit hydraulic fracturing wastewater produced in any state from being treated, discharged, disposed, or stored in New Jersey.

“Even with federal regulators finally agreeing to take a look at this issue, it’s important that we make this move to protect both the public and our natural reDests,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer). “The last thing we want is this radioactive water ending up in our streams and rivers where it would cause environmental and health problems.”

Wagner has been a leader in sponsoring legislation to protect New Jerseyans by prohibiting fracking in the state. Both sponsors said they were especially concerned that the wastewater could end up in rivers and streams.

The measure was approved by the assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee by a vote of 4-1-1 and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.