Could Natural Gas Drilling Near Your Texas or Oklahoma Home be Putting Your Health in Danger?At a conference on natural gas drilling held on January 9th, doctors said that the United States should stop hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in populated areas, at least until the health effects are better understood.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” is a drilling method used in the production of gas and involves injecting water that has been chemically treated into shale formations to release natural gas. Several dangerous chemicals that are either used in fracking or are a byproduct of fracking include methane and carcinogenic chemicals like benzene.
Economics Currently Outweigh Safety
Recently, the safety of fracking has come into question. A study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found evidence of chemicals associated with gas drilling and fracking in drinking water wells. Despite its findings, the EPA is not expected to issue its final report on the health effects of fracking until 2014.
Fracking has stimulated the economy and created new jobs throughout the country, so lawmakers are reluctant to halt the practice. According to data released by the U.S. Energy Department, an estimated 2,543 trillion cubic feet of gas is currently being held by the United States. This is enough to meet domestic demand for energy for the next century.
With all of the chemicals that are used or produced in fracking, doctors worry that these chemicals could be contaminating the air and water of nearby populations. In Dimock, Pennsylvania, for example, residents were told by the EPA not to drink their tap water because it was not safe.
So far, people living near fracking wells have complained of skin problems, rashes, and respiratory problems. But with the chemicals used in fracking, doctors worry that nearby populations may be afflicted with more serious health conditions, like cancer.
The American Public Health Association (APHA) has taken a stand against fracking, saying “APHA believe[s] the potential harmful consequences of shale gas exploration to the public’s heath are too great and uncertain. We strongly agree with the call that the public health effects of shale gas must be examined before the industry continues to expand in the U.S.”
How Texas & Oklahoma are Affected
People living in Texas and Oklahoma sit on land that is rich in natural gas. In North Texas, the Barnett Shale is an area that is continually being developed for natural gas. In fact, Texas leads the nation in natural gas production.
In Texas, the Railroad Commission, which regulates the natural gas industry, has passed new rules that require companies to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.
Just last week in Oklahoma, a fracking well caught fire. No one was injured, but questions about the health and safety of residents close to these fracking wells are well-founded.
Van Wey Law will be monitoring this new health issue that affects Texas and Oklahoma residents. Visit www.vanweylaw.com for developments in this area.