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Seminar held on health dangers of hydraulic fracturing

02.01.12

JANUARY 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Seminar held on health dangers of hydraulic fracturing

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 3rd- The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) Union, which represent nurses employed at the Community Medical Center (CMC) Hospital in Scranton and at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital in Wilkes-Barre, and Conservation Pennsylvania, recently organized a seminar in Scranton to help local nurses identify the symptoms which indicate exposure to the chemicals in natural gas drilling.

“Our job is to take care of the people in our hospitals and it’s our responsibility to learn about new potential health threats, like gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale,” stated Roben Schwartz, a PASNAP member and a Registered Nurse employed at the Community Medical Center.

Ms. Schwartz joined other nurses and citizens at the Station Hotel in Scranton on December 6th for a discussion about the impacts of gas drilling on human health. Also attending were physicians and conservationists.

“Gas drilling on a huge scale is new to Pennsylvania and it comes with real risks to human health. Our nurses have dedicated their lives to keeping their neighbors healthy and they took time to come to this class to make sure that they’re ready to handle this new danger to the region’s families,” added Ms. Schwartz.

Scientists suspect that some wastewater from the process called hydraulic fracturing that is used to unlock the gas from shale rock might migrate into deep rock formations, causing water wells to become contaminated and earthquakes.

On January 1st, the State of Ohio halted natural gas drilling operations in the Youngstown area because of repeated earthquakes including one of December 31st.

Similar links between disposal wells, a disposal of millions of gallons of brine and other waste liquids produced at natural gas wells, have been suspected in Texas and Arkansas. Colorado also has banned hydraulic fracturing.

The moratorium on injection of drilling waste in Ohip took place after a 10th earthquake, a 2.7 temblor occurred less than 2,000 feet below the well on December 24th but a stronger quake occurred less than 24 hours later and then again on December 31st.

At the seminar Ms. Schwartz was joined by Fran Prusinski, a nurse at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and Chapter President of the PASNAP unit at the medical facilty, and Dr. Al Rodriguez, a nephrologist and president of the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition of Luzerne County and other environmental activists.

“People with serious health problems should always see a medical professional, but everyone should know what symptoms of exposure to these chemicals looks like because early detection can make a huge difference,” stated Ms. Prusinski.

The panel called for more research into the health effects of natural gas extraction and public education about the potential risks. They stated Pennsylvania has done too little to fund and coordinate research about the issue and has let drilling proceed without appropriate study or safeguards.

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