Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has asked the state Department of Health to determine how best to spur additional academic and science-based studies of the potential public health effects caused by shale gas development in the state.
“Pennsylvania’s natural gas development is providing economic benefits to the commonwealth. But these benefits should not require a choice between them and public health or safety,” the governor said in a release. “It is essential that, as we realize economic benefits, we ensure the public is protected, especially our children, and take the necessary steps to aggressively regulate resource development.”
The governor’s directive comes in response to calls by environmental activists, doctors, and more than 100 organizations for him to order an investigation into the potential link between high numbers of childhood cancers in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has documented up to 67 cases of childhood and young adult cancers in Washington, Greene, Fayette, and Westmoreland counties in its ongoing series, “Human toll: Risk and Exposure in the Gas Lands.”
Among those cancers during the past decade are 27 cases of Ewing sarcoma, a rare bone cancer affecting mostly children and teens. Twelve of those cases occurred in Westmoreland County and another six within the Canon-McMillan School District in Washington County.
The governor said a multistate environmental health review recently completed by Department of Health epidemiologists was “inconclusive and suggested that further in-depth research is warranted.”
The governor released his statement shortly after receiving a lengthy compendium of scientific and medical studies released in Harrisburg by the Concerned Health Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility that focuses on topics related to the public health and safety effects of unconventional shale gas and oil development.
“We believe there is a need for more study [of gas industry health impacts],” said J.J. Abbott, the governor’s spokesman, “and a literature review done over a long period of time confirms this.”
He said the governor has asked Rachel Levine, health department secretary, to do an assessment.
“In these matters I defer to the expertise of the health professionals who have devoted their careers to ensuring that the public is protected from health risks,” the governor said in the statement. “We will continue to research and study the evidence from Pennsylvania, and closely monitor the academic literature as it develops elsewhere. This work is incredibly resource-intensive, but it must be done.”
Levine said in a statement released by the governor’s office that the administration has “sought, accepted, and investigated” hundreds of complaints about the potential public health effects from oil and natural gas development.
Read the full story here.
Don't miss our latest HSE content, delivered to your inbox twice monthly. Sign up for the HSE Now newsletter. If you are not logged in, you will receive a confirmation email that you will need to click on to confirm you want to receive the newsletter.
18 Nov 2019
- Banff, Alberta, Canada
Refine your technical writing skills at this one-day training course
3 Dec 2019
- Cairo, Egypt
Enhance your understanding of process safety techniques by reserving a place at this 1-day training course
9 - 11 Nov 2019
- Abu Dhabi, UAE
The programme combines expert input, case studies, and immersive scenarios from the E&P and other industries to embed your learning and enable you to progress to the next level of your career.
10 Nov 2019
- Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Safety Leadership focuses on the ‘Human Factors’ (HF) which complement technical training to optimize reliability, safety, compliance, efficiency and risks within a team-based environment.
This course will help you develop a better understanding of factors that could impact your daily economic decisions as well as establish a new set of applicable tools to use in your professional career.
Through this workshop, attendees will go through the different processes involved in strategic planning including the elements of organizational SWOT, business scenario and options development, elaboration of strategic options and communication to stakeholders.
22 Apr 2020
- Bergen, Norway
Share your expertise at this event
HSE Now is a source for news and technical information affecting the health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility discipline of the upstream oil and gas industry.
©2003-2019 Society of Petroleum Engineers, All Rights Reserved.