Ohio fracking fire witnesses ask for greater chemical disclosure

A fire erupted last week on a frack-pad in Ohio State. The accident was finally contained after cross-county support from emergency services, who had to handle the hazardous flaming chemicals, without knowing what they were in the first place. As a result, efforts to put the fire out were hampered by the lack of available knowledge.

The Ohio Citizen reports:

The fire at the Monroe County well site on June 28 spread to 20 nearby trucks on the drilling pad, and required additional firefighters from six counties to contain it. Melissa English, development director with Ohio Citizen Action, says first responders were probably unaware of the chemicals involved in the accident because the only ones listed were ‘condensate and produced water.’

‘There were more chemicals on-site at the time of the fire, because they had started fracking by that time,’ says English. ‘They had started actually stimulating the well to produce oil and gas, which they hadn’t done at the time the hazardous chemical inventory was filed last year.’

To read the press release in full, click here.

Beginner’s guide to fracking: 5 fracking and health

Serious Public Health concerns are beginning to be raised following recent medical research and reports into unconventional shale gas extraction.

The plan for Fermanagh: up to 60 multi well pads with up to 24 wells per pad. Each pad would be 6.5 acres in size and located approximately 1 mile apart. 40,000 acres of development, and may extend up to three times this size.

picnic

Experience from around the world has shown that fracking brings with it a very real risk of contamination of soil, water and air borne contamination. The full extent of future potential health problems caused by contamination from fracked wells is still unknown.

A 2012 study from America’s Cornell University, ‘Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health’, described fracking as “an uncontrolled health experiment on an enormous scale”. Many diseases caused by contamination have a lag time of up to twenty years before people become ill. By then it is too late, you cannot reverse the effects of contamination on peoples health.

Even if the company manages to do ‘chemical free’ fracking, the flow back fluid which comes back up will be contaminated by oil and gas derivatives and heavy metals washes out from fractured rock. This means that millions of gallons of toxic fluid will come back up each well. This flow back fluid will contain varying amounts of the following chemicals with the associated health risks:

– BENZENE: Leukemia, cancers and neural tube defects (spina bifida)
– MERCURY: Brain and kidney damage and effects unborn children.
– ARSENIC: Cancer
– ETHYL-BENZENE: Respiratory disease, fatigue and headaches.
– TOLUENE: Birth defects and central nervous system damage.
– VOC’s: Endocrine disrupters

frack1

Recent medical reports and research into fracking state:
– 25% of the chemicals used could cause cancer and mutations, 37% could upset the endocrine system, 40-50% could affect the nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems, and 90% could affect the skin, eyes and respiratory system. [Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, 2012]
– Silicosis lung damage from the airborne silica dust used in frack sand. [Esswein,2012]
– Increased risk of ill health, cancer and non-cancer, in people living near frack pads. [Air pollution control division, Colorado Department of public health, 2008]
– Irreversible lung damage caused by ground level ozone. This is produced when fugitive methane gases combine with diesel fumes of fracking machinery. (In Fermanagh, this ‘smog’ along with other air pollution from fracking will be blown over the rest of the county by thE prevailing westerly wind.) [The Endocrine Disruption Index, 2012]
– Sudden death, slow death, reproductive problems and nerve diseases have been shown in twenty four different fracking incidents involving hundreds of farm animals over six states in USA; mostly related to exposure from flowback fluid. Some of these animals are believed to have ended up in the human food chain. [Bamburger and Oswald, 2012]

frack2

Noise pollution from both lorries on the road and heavy site machinery will be a major problem in a rural county like Fermanagh, where frack pads are likely to be close to houses. The noise together with lights on around frack sites all night, will be a hinderance to sleep and can impact on both physical and mental health and well-being.

Short term industrialisation of rural areas results in –
– a ‘boom and bust’ economy that impacts negatively on public health.
– Social community upheaval creating inequality and resulting in increased mental health problems, domestic violence, crime, drug/alcohol abuse.

The Precautionary Principle must apply. Our Health is our real Wealth.
Full health impact assessments are required, not just environmental impact assessments.

To download this information as a printable pdf, please visit our flyers page.

Fuelling Ireland’s public health problems

Fuelling Ireland’s public health problems — Irish Medical Times. (click on link to read the article in full)

“[F]ive issues can be identified that raise concerns about the impact of fracking on health.   Firstly, the process of fracking uses a wide variety of chemicals,  including friction reducers, surfactants, gelling agents, scale inhibitors, acids, corrosion inhibitors, antibacterial agents and clay stabilisers. Additional naturally occurring heavy metals and radioactive materials may also be mobilised from the rock during its fracture, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, thorium and uranium and these may also interact with the chemicals in the fluid.

In addition, the possibility of accidental release of chemicals and gases through fire, vandalism, or spills and leaks from poor practices is an ongoing risk.

Toxic mud and fluid by-products from the drilling and fracking, as well as spills of oil and gas wastes, are not uncommon. The health impact of such chemicals depends on factors such as the toxicity, dose, route and duration of exposure, and the vulnerability of the people being affected…

Secondly, air may also be contaminated by volatile chemicals released during drilling (combustion from machinery and transport) and from other operations, during methane separation or by evaporation from holding ponds. Methane gas is also explosive….

Thirdly, fracking requires substantial amounts of water, 1.5 million gallons per well …  A shortage of water would pose considerable threats to health and well-being of people living in the area. The company proposes using some of the waste water for fracking. However, this will very possibly involve the burning off some of the toxic residues leading to additional air pollution, as well as storage difficulties.

Fourthly, the soil may be contaminated by drilling sludge, which may contain drilling mud, hydrocarbons, radioactive material and heavy metals. This would have serious consequences for grasslands used for leisure or agriculture purposes. The consumption of meat and or milk from animals grazing on such land would also give rise for concern.

Finally, the British Geological Survey states that it is well established that fluid injections can cause small earthquakes and fracking has been associated with two small quakes near Blackpool.

It is widely recognised that we need to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gasses. The adoption of fracking is a step away from a solution to the problem of climate change. We must leave any remnants of fossil fuel in the ground, instead of seeking ever more expensive and environmentally destructive methods of extracting them. … In the interests of public health, we must not allow fracking in Ireland.

Any tragedy is upsetting; an avoidable tragedy is all the more so.”

(Dr. Elizabeth Cullen)