HYDRAULIC FRACTURING HEALTH EFFECTS

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Jan Hendryx, DO. They are in no way associated with, or reflective of opinions of Millcreek Health Systems, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Millcreek Community Hospital, Millcreek Manor, Medical Associates of Erie, or administrators, representatives or employees of these entities.

EnvironmentErie
Guest Voice/Jan Hendryx, DO
Erie Times-News, February 8, 2011
Link to Article: http://environmenterie.org/articles/article?article_id=33

I can’t decide whether the series of special report articles on the Marcellus shale natural gas boom appearing in the Erie Times-News (Sunday, January 30, 2011) was actually in-depth news reporting, or a paid infomercial for the oil and gas industry. The usual mantras “jobs and money” resounded very loudly, while the articles essentially ignored the environmental havoc and potential serious health effects this development causes. One would think by the size of the headlines and the enthusiastic pro- natural gas content that we are actually heralding the Second Coming. Reporting was far from fair and balanced about this topic and issues associated with unconventional development of natural gas from shale formations in Pennsylvania.

Unlike the farmers and landowners featured in the articles, my wife and I have had our lives turned upside down by Marcellus shale development near our rural home in McKean County. We have been forced to educate ourselves about the many complex issues associated with this activity. We are empathetic with the residents of North East who have serious well-founded concerns about potential environmental pollution, and home and business loss by natural gas development.

As a physician, I am extremely concerned about the health of all citizens and future generations due to adverse events and toxic water and air exposures associated with shale development. Unfortunately, our political leaders and gas industry executives do not appear to share this concern. They have effectively blocked access to information about the multitude of poisonous chemicals in fracking fluid by exempting it from the Safe Drinking Water Act. DEP permits huge volumes of inadequately treated residual wastewater from these wells containing large amounts of total dissolved solids, volatile cancer-causing organic compounds, and radioactive substances to be discharged daily into our rivers. These chemicals travel downstream and can seep into superficial aquifers along the watershed banks. Everyone “in charge” seems content to sit across the table from us and offer a neighborly fracking fluid/residual waste cocktail to drink, bathe in, and inhale.

Deep shale natural gas drilling is spreading like a fast-growing uncontrolled cancer throughout Pennsylvania with hundreds of thousands of wells predicted to be drilled over the next few decades. A massive campaign by multinational gas companies, consulting “experts”, and politicians is attempting to transform much of the northeast U.S. into the “next Saudi Arabia”. Our exposure to the chemicals used in the hydrofracturing process will most likely cause a marked increase in cancer and other illnesses. Our environment, drinking water, air quality, property values, roadways, and quality of life are being destroyed at a rapid pace. What the gas companies and politicians aren’t telling us is that this development isn’t just for our own energy sustainability, but for export to other countries.

We need to wake up and stop burying our heads in the sand regarding these issues. We all need to educate ourselves about the myriad of problems, and stop being sweet-talked by the politicians, media, radio and TV commercials. It is already too late for residents in Dimock, Bradford, Hickory Township and other communities who have had their drinking water destroyed by gas drilling. We collectively need to take a stand NOW and urge our state and federal representatives to enact a ban on further unconventional deep shale development until the issues can be appropriately researched, addressed and resolved–and before it is too late in the rest of Pennsylvania. Our future depends on it!

Drilling is Spreading like Cancer.

Guest Commentary by: Jan Hendryx, DO. Bradford Era, March 14, 2011
Link to Article: http://www.fractracker.org/?p=327

As the unconventional development of natural gas from shale drum keeps beating “jobs and money”, I find myself perplexed and dismayed by the lack of media attention devoted to the disastrous environmental havoc and potential serious health issues created by this activity.

Over the last year, my wife and I have had our lives turned upside down by Marcellus shale development near our rural home in Mt. Jewett. We have been forced to educate ourselves on a daily basis about the many complex issues associated with this activity.

As a physician, I am extremely concerned about the health of all citizens and future generations due to adverse events and toxic water and air exposures associated with shale development. Unfortunately, our political leaders and gas industry executives do not appear to share this concern. They have effectively blocked access to information about the multitude of poisonous chemicals in fracking fluid by exempting it from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

DEP permits massive volumes of inadequately treated residual wastewater from these wells containing large amounts of total dissolved solids, volatile cancer-causing organic compounds, and radioactive substances to be discharged daily into our rivers, including the Allegheny and Clarion. These chemicals travel downstream and can seep into superficial aquifers along the watershed banks, or are taken up directly at community drinking water intakes for public consumption. Everyone “in charge” seems content to sit across the table from us and offer a neighborly fracking fluid/residual waste cocktail to drink, bathe in, and inhale.

Governor Corbett just announced a streamlining of gas well permitting, cut backs in state employees (most likely decreasing oversight by DEP), and is refusing to tax the natural gas industry, while cutting state budgets in all areas. As our communities are strapped economically and the roads and infrastructure destroyed by the parade of trucks carrying drilling equipment, fracking fluid, water, and residual waste to and from well sites, we continue to welcome the gas companies into our homes and on our land like they are the Second Coming of the Christ.

Deep shale natural gas drilling is spreading like a fast-growing uncontrolled cancer throughout Pennsylvania with hundreds of thousands of wells predicted to be drilled over the next few decades. A massive campaign by multinational gas companies, consulting “experts”, politicians, and now our universities is attempting to transform much of the northeast U.S. into the “next Saudi Arabia”. Our exposure to the chemicals used in the hydrofracturing process will most likely cause a marked increase in cancer and other illnesses. Our environment, drinking water, air quality, property values, roadways, and quality of life are being destroyed at a rapid pace.

What the gas companies and politicians aren’t telling us is that this development isn’t just for our own energy sustainability, but for export to other countries. Natural gas is already being shipped to China, India, and elsewhere.

We need to wake up and stop burying our heads in the sand regarding these issues. We all need to educate ourselves about the myriad of problems, and stop being sweet-talked by the politicians, media, radio and TV commercials. It is already too late for residents in Bradford, Dimock, Hickory Township and other communities who have had their drinking water, and possibly their homes, destroyed by gas drilling. It is too late for citizens who have seen their property values drop by 85% once their well or spring has become polluted.

We collectively need to take a stand NOW and urge our state and federal representatives to enact a ban on further unconventional deep shale development until the issues can be appropriately researched, addressed and resolved–and before it is too late for the rest of Pennsylvania. Our future depends on it!

For information about gas drilling, permits, violations, spills, residual waste dumping at water treatment plants, and health and environmental issues, I urge you to go to www.fractracker.org. This is a website maintained by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. I also urge you to go to the New York Times website, www.nytimes.com and read the series of “Drilling Down” articles published from February 27-March 8, 2011 about the Pennsylvania debacle.

Jan Hendryx, DO, maintains a clinical practice in Erie, and is a native Bradfordian.

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