Not what the doctor ordered | Green Arkansas

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Not what the doctor ordered

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 1:41 PM

A new report issued by the National Resource Defense Council looks at the health impact of natural gas drilling operations. The report focuses on Garfield County in Colorado where gas exploration is up 39 percent over the past 7 years. In it, the authors explain that a 2006 report by the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners found that many water wells, springs, ponds and rivers had detectable levels of methane. The report also said that surface waters contained benzene and other organic compounds. Samples were taken from a 110 square mile area which included the Mamm Creek gas field, south of the Colorado River.

The report also says oil and gas exploration is exempt from standards set by federal statutes including

“provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, or the Superfund Act), and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (the Toxics Release Inventory or TRI). These laws are designed to protect the health of the American population by ensuring clean air and water (Mall 2007)."

State agencies, it seems have trouble picking up the slack. 

The paper discusses the health effects in Colorado.

The literature review gives a good background on gas drilling operations in general

UPDATE: Yesterday I contacted the Department of Health to see if they had done any studies or research on the potential short or long-term health effects of gas drilling operations in the state.  They told me this was an ADEQ issue, so I posed the question to them.  Their response follows:

The ADEQ does not possess the technical expertise to conduct human health-effects studies such as you describe. The agency is responsible for enforcing various permitted activities which involve standards for pollutants in air, water, and soil. Those standards have been developed, in many instances at the national level by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, National Institutes of Health, and Food and Drug Administration, among others. In some instances the standards are set for protection of human health, in others they are based on environmental protection concerns. ADEQ is not aware of any human health-related studies involving natural gas drilling and production operations. You might check with some of the federal agencies I mentioned to see if any of them have performed such studies or if they may be aware of work done by other agencies or the private sector.

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