Governor Tom Wolf Asked to Look into Fracking and Childhood Cancers

Governor Tom Wolf Asked to Look into Fracking and Childhood Cancers

More than 100 organizations and 800 individuals have signed a public letter asking for the State Health Department to investigate shale gas drilling and its potential links to large amounts of childhood cancer. The letter was delivered to Governor Tom Wolf and Dr. Rachel Levine, the State Health Department Secretary on Monday. It was also hand delivered on Wednesday, June 19 in Harrisburg during a demonstration. The letter is requesting that gas drilling be suspended until a health investigation can show that the cancers are not a result of the shale drilling and fracking.

Up to 67 cases of childhood and young adult cancers are documented in Washington, Greene, Fayette, and Westmoreland counties, all near active shale gas wells. Of the 67 cancer cases, 27 of them are Ewing Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer with only 250 cases diagnosed every year in the United States. The state health department reviewed 12 Ewing sarcoma cases in Westmoreland County and six cases in Canon McMillan in Washington County, but found that neither of them met the criteria to be designated as a cancer cluster even though only three of the six Canon McMillan cases were included in the assessment.

The shale gas industry denies that there is a link between fracking and poor human health. The industry also says it is committed to protecting the health and safety of people in the surrounding communities where it operates. While there are questions about what exactly is causing cancer rates to spike in these areas, the one big change in the last five to ten years is the shale gas industry. The letter to Tom Wolf states that there have been 12,000 wells drilled and fracked in mostly rural counties in southwestern Pennsylvania in the last 15 years bringing toxic carcinogens to the area. Many of these chemicals are a high risk to children and can also lead to low birth weights, birth defects, asthma, and other respiratory problems.

The letter to the governor mentions a Yale study that identifies 55 fracking chemicals as being known or possible carcinogens. It suggests further research into shale gas and the possible health effects it can cause, including cancer in general but especially childhood leukemia.

If you live near a fracking site and now have cancer, you may be entitled to compensation. Call us at 412-471-3980 or fill out our contact form to speak to an attorney and learn your options.

Don Hopey and David Templeton, “Gov. Tom Wolf asked to investigate possible link between Pa. fracking, childhood cancers” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (June 17, 2019). [Link]

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