How Fracking Is a Danger to Your Health
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Ramsay Adams is the executive director of Catskill Mountiankeeper an environmental organization based in Youngsville, NY. CMK has been pushing for a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) since 2008.
Artel: What’s your reaction to Cuomo’s statement last week that he wants to look at the relationship between health and fracking before making a decision in NY?
Adams: It’s very heartening that the Governor understands the need to look at health and how it relates to fracking. The issue now is who does the Health Impact Analysis and are they going to do a full independent health analysis in the proper sense of the term? So far the governor has indicated that he wants to keep it in house and have the Department of Health do the study with the DEC and that’s not what we want.
We want an independent health impact analysis. It’s a well-established tool that is used in these kinds of situations to accurately assess health threats. Anything short of that is going to be suspect and that’s the point here, we want the governor, we want the DEC and the health community to have access to an analysis that isn’t tainted by the influence of industry. Unfortunately the DEC and the Department of Health and other state agencies are being heavily influenced by the industry at this point. The message is twofold, we are heartened that the governor has taken the step to look at health but in order to do that and to really stand on independent analysis that is free from industry and for that matter advocates influence, it needs to be a proper Independent Health Analysis.
Artel: What are your concerns about fracking in NY?
Adams: The key to understanding the implications for health and fracking is to look at the full life cycle of the process. Everything from development, to extraction, to distribution and then to burning of the fuel. So in order to understand what to think you have to look at the entire life cycle of fracked gas and that’s where you see the compounding problems with health and the environment that make it so dangerous. We know about the herbicides and pesticides to prep a site, the toxic chemicals, the industrialization, the leakage, the air pollution, the methane but the dangers to the workforce are very significant, that gas kills workers exposed to these chemicals.
The key is you can’t just look at the fracking. Fracking is one part of getting dirty fuel extracted and to market. When you start to see the cumulative impacts you realize you have a real human health issue on a huge scale for a lot of people: in the gaslands, the distribution and for the workers. Also for the emergency workers, the firemen, and the hospital workers; it just goes down the line and that’s the key to understanding the impacts on health the whole entire life cycle of this process needs to be looked at.
Cindy Kurpil Gieger is a Sullivan County Legislator in the Catskills.
Artel: What’s your concern as a legislature regarding the health impacts of fracking?
Gieger: As an elected official my number one responsibility is to protect the health and safety of the people I represent. As a former Public Health nurse and victim of the devastating results of water contamination and resulting litigation, I must call for a comprehensive health impact study inclusive of health care professionals across NYS and the nation.
Until recently NYS has not looked at the implications of health in regards to the process of hydrofracking for natural gas drilling. In the process of hydrofracking in other areas of the nation serious concerns have been raised in regards to chemical exposure and disease processes in those areas. As a former Public Health nurse and one whose family was involved in litigation against a major gas company due to MTBE water contamination, I am well aware of the effect of chemical exposure and the health of our citizens.