March 29, 2013 Angela Johnson Meszaros
DOCTORS SPEAK OUT AGAINST THE DANGERS OF KEEPING FRACKING CHEMICALS SECRET
Oil industry calls for trade secret protections of chemicals pumped into the environment are bad policy and a bad idea
Los Angeles, CA (March 29, 2013) – California is fast becoming the new frontier for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a process that will introduce hundreds of thousands of gallons of chemicals—many of which are toxic—into the environment. Oil and gas companies are bringing not only their drill rigs, they are also bringing their lawyers, lobbyists, and public relations firms to convince California’s regulators and legislators to shield their operations — and harm that fracking may cause– from public view.
“Many of the chemicals used in fracking are well known to cause serious health problems including, cancer especially leukemia in children ” said Dr. James Dahlgren, an internist with a sub-specialty in toxicology and member of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA). “Allowing the oil and gas industry to hide behind “trade secrets” claims while they expose people to undisclosed types and amounts of toxic chemicals is unacceptable,” said Dr. Dahlgren.
Right now, the agency responsible for regulating oil and gas extraction, the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Regulation (known as DOGGR) is having public hearings throughout the State on a draft regulation that would prohibit doctors from telling a patient injured by exposure to fracking chemicals what chemical is causing her illness. The draft regulation would also prohibit doctors from informing other doctors of their observations of chemical exposures and harm among patients exposed to particular chemicals.
“Science is at the heart of the practice of medicine,” said Dr. Dahlgren a member of PSR-LA. “Regulators will be making a big and tragic mistake by prohibiting the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data about the effects of chemical exposures associated with fracking,” Dr. Dahlgren stated. “If they’re so sure it’s safe, then why worry about data collection?”
In addition to the regulations proposed by DOGGR, there are 10 bills pending in the California Legislature related to various aspects of fracking operations. None of those proposals ensure that Californians will know if fracking is harming them or our environment.
“We’re following this very, very closely,” said Martha Dina Argüello, executive director of PSR-LA. “We’ll be talking with regulators and legislators about the critical importance of allowing health professionals to access and use information about chemicals used in fracking to understand and track any negative impacts.” Argüello said. “You can bet the public health community will not stand by as the oil and gas industry tries to undermine public health research and to gag doctors.”
PSR-LA is a physician and health advocate membership organization working to protect public health from nuclear threats and environmental toxins. Representing over 5,000 physicians, health professionals, and concerned residents in Southern California