Gas exploration and development has created an environmental and health crisis impacting many states across the country. Increasingly, people living in the Marcellus Region are reporting health problems associated with contamination of water sources, air pollution, and environmental toxins resulting from shale gas extraction activities. Government’s failure to address this critical public health issue at every level — local, state and federal – has left a void. The state of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Health do not document any complaints unless these complaints are also filed with federal agencies. To compound the problem, state agencies are seriously understaffed. Several barriers stand in between those who are suffering due to gas drilling, and serious action to fix the problem.
With the assistance of a medical physician, DCS has proposed to remedy this particular situation by assisting those impacted in filing reports to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and monitoring the government’s response. The ultimate aim of this project is to provide a formal database of harms done to communities by shale gas extraction so that government and policy makers will use health impact data as a basis for regulating the industry and its practices. We are also hopeful that we can start to find help for impacted people.
DCS will train community leaders on ATSDR reporting requirements and how to make the Survey a community project so they can facilitate their neighbors and community reporting what their experiences have been. It is ATSDR’s job to respond.
Increasing knowledge will ultimately will shape public policy regulating (or allowing) this activity, leading to protecting public health of those who live near or use local water sources or are downstream from the many drilling sites. In addition, the cumulative impacts will finally be made clear. Accurate assessment of our current path should lead to new and better choices.
This is a national project and we urge people, including workers, from all drilling regions or areas impacted by oil/gas activities to complete the Survey.