Fracking, Shale Gas
and Health

Fracking and Health Awareness Project

Real people, real lives

Shalefield Stories: Personal Accounts From the Frontlines of Fracking

02/04/2014

Residents living on the frontlines of fracking recount their stories of illness, water contamination and damage to their livelihoods due to dirty drilling operations in a new booklet, Shalefield Stories.

“Behind the alarming numbers that outline fracking’s environmental impacts, there are real people whose lives have been gravely impacted by these polluting practices,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America Research & Policy Center. “These are their stories, and we would be wise to heed their words of warning on fracking.”

“This is what happens when you invite fracking into your community,” said Marilyn Hunt, who suffered air and water pollution and illness in the wake of nearby fracking operations. “Today, we are not alone in saying this dirty drilling has to stop.”

The people within the pages of Shalefield Stories are only a few of the many individuals and families directly impacted by fracking operations. In some cases, residents affected by fracking are no longer able to talk about their experiences because of gag orders contained in their legal settlements with the drilling operator. One tally called List of the Harmed shows more than 4,800 individuals adversely affected by oil and gas incidents.

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Shalefield Stories: Personal Accounts From the Frontlines of Fracking

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Fracking our Food Supply

01/31/2014

How is fracking affecting farming and the food supply. Elizabeth Royte’s in-depth article, Fracking Our Food Supply is excerpted here.
“Schilke’s troubles began in the summer of 2010, when a crew working at this site continued to force drilling fluid down a well that had sprung a leak. Soon, Schilke’s cattle were limping, with swollen legs and infections. Cows quit producing milk for their calves; they lost from sixty to eighty pounds in a week; and their tails mysteriously dropped off.”
… “ ‘There are a variety of organic compounds, metals and radioactive material that are of human health concern when livestock meat or milk is ingested,’ says Motoko Mukai, a veterinary toxicologist at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine. These ‘compounds accumulate in the fat and are excreted into milk. Some compounds are persistent and do not get metabolized easily.’

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Gas before food: BC agricultural land at risk

11/12/2013

The proposal would see the Agricultural Land Commission cease to be an independent agency, instead coming under the control of the Agriculture Ministry, while handing “primary authority” to authorize industrial activity on agricultural land to the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, reported the Globe and Mail.

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Fracking, dead cows and…RADIATION?

11/12/2013

Alberta cattle rancher Howard Hawkwood has a beef with the local fracking industry. He’s convinced the controversial technique for gas extraction is responsible for killing off 18 of his cows and large swaths of his property near Airdrie, Alberta.

“These are the dead spots in the field, where my cows have urinated. This all showed up last spring…We’ve actually taken soil samples of the dead spot and a sample from a foot and a half away and we’ve got high levels of radon, barium, uranium, strontium, and magnesium is extremely high.”

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The Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health

05/12/2013

This peer-reviewed study by veterinarian Michelle Bamberger and Veterinary Medicine Professor of Pharmacology Robert Oswald, both of Cornell University, is the first scientific study to investigate reports of animal health impacts associated with shale gas development. The study is based on interviews with animal owners who live near gas drilling operations. It also documents associations between health symptoms experienced by animals and the health problems suffered by humans. The findings illustrate which aspects of the drilling process may lead to health problems and suggest modifications that would lessen but not eliminate impacts.
Bamberger and Oswald conclude, “Without rigorous scientific studies, the gas drilling boom sweeping the world will remain an uncontrolled health experiment on an enormous scale.”

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Taking the Handle off the Fracking Pump

04/11/2013

In Taking the Handle off the Fracking Pump, environmental biologist Sandra Steingraber “explores the human rights dimensions of fracking and the role of public health research within that context. Of particular interest will be the ethical question of conducting such research in communities whose residents may be serving, in effect, as involuntary subjects in an ongoing, uncontrolled experiment. How does our moral obligation to prevent harm square with attempts to monitor the evidence for harm? What is the relationship between mitigation and prevention?”

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Cancer in the Ransom Note

04/09/2013

by Sandra Steingraber
Fracking is a hostage exchange program. Only the carcinogens go free.

“Shale development has been a nightmare for those exposed to the resulting pollution.” — Food and Water Europe, “Fracking: The New Global Water Crisis Fact Sheet”

Why should cancer patients in the United States and Canada — and those who love or diagnose them — care about a report about looming water shortages in distant countries such as South Africa and Argentina?

The report is “Fracking: The New Global Water Crisis.” Written by Food and Water Watch, it documents the many ways in which the technology called hydraulic fracturing threatens the world’s vital water resources.

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Gas Patch Roulette: How Shale Gas Development Risks Public Health in Pennsylvania

03/27/2013

Gas Patch Roulette is one of the few studies to date documenting patterns of illness in people living close to shale gas development. The report was released in October, 2012 by Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project (OGAP.)

The findings of this study stand in strong contrast to statements—often made by industry representatives and policymakers seeking to expand drilling—dismissing claims of health impacts as “personal anecdotes” and isolated incidents.

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Fracking our farms: A tale of five farming families

03/16/2013

Their names are Carol, Steve & Jackie, Susan, Marilyn & Robert, and Christine. They share a bond. Two bonds, actually: They all own, or owned, farms. And those farms, along with their own health and the health of their farm animals, have all been ruined by fracking.

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Science Lags as Health Problems Emerge Near Gas Fields

07/13/2012

by Abrahm Lustgarten and Nicholas Kusnetz ProPublica, Sept. 16, 2011, 5:35 p.m. On a summer evening in June 2005, Susan Wallace-Babb went out into a neighbor’s field near her ranch in Western Colorado to close an irrigation ditch. She parked down the rutted double-track, stepped out of her truck into the low-slung sun, took a deep breath and collapsed, unconscious. A natural gas well and a pair of fuel storage tanks sat less than a half-mile away. Later, after Wallace-Babb came to and sought answers, a sheriff’s deputy told her that a tank full of gas condensate—liquid hydrocarbons gathered from the production process—had overflowed into another tank. The fumes must have drifted toward the field where she was working, he suggested. The next morning Wallace-Babb was so sick she could barely move.

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