Apr 6 2009

Health Threat?

Pitt Prof May Launch Health Study

  • Do natural gas drilling and related industry operations threaten the health of residents in Clearville and other parts of Pennsylvania?
  • Are there higher levels of arsenic in drinking water because of gas industry operations?
  • Are reports of animals dying related to these same gas industry operations?
  • Are government watchdogs doing anything about this – at either the state or federal level?

A professor from the University of Pittsburgh wants to find out.

From the front page of the Bedford Gazette comes news that a University of Pittsburgh professor spoke with about 40 residents in Clearville, PA, about conducting a study to look into the potential health side effects of natural gas drilling and operations in the area.

The community meeting on March 29 was organized by Wayne and Angel Smith who are members of our landowners group fighting Spectra Energy, according to the March 30th Bedford Gazette news article.

The discussion was led by Dr. Conrad Volz, Assistant Professor and Director of the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.  Volz has impressive academic and scientific credentials.  Here is a link to his Pitt website:

He was assisted by Charles Christen, Director of Operations for CHEC at the University of Pittsburgh.

Volz’s goal is to collect data and comments from residents about their experiences with gas well drilling and operations in the Clearville area.  This information will be included in a “published document that will be used to attract the interest of foundations that hopefully will fund the study,” according to the Bedford Gazette.

Dr. Volz spoke about harmful substances and practices of gas companies that are potentially injurious to human health and safety.  For example, on the subject of arsenic, according to the article:

“Using local testing results, he [Volz] pointed out several of about a dozen test results showed arsenic beyond the state’s allowable levels.”

While Spectra Energy’s Steckman Ridge Project is an underground natural gas storage facility, it involves the drilling of injection wells.  In addition, Spectra Energy has been approved by FERC for “fracking” operations in these wells.

Many Clearville residents are not satisfied with the so-called “watchdog” role of government at both the state (PA Department of Environmental Protection) and federal level (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission).

Some have filed “right to know” requests with the DEP, under the state’s “Open Records Law.”

Since the Bedford Gazette has a limited online presence, I am posting two jpg files of the front-page article written by Elizabeth Coyle, Associate Editor.

Bedford Gazette, March 30, 2009

Bedford Gazette, March 30, 2009; Click on image to enlarge.

Bedford Gazette, March 30, 2009; Click on image to enlarge.

Bedford Gazette, March 30, 2009; Click on image to enlarge.

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