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Issue No. 5 - April 1, 2013

1. Increasing evidence of health impacts


As reported in the RTE Radio 1 Drivetime series Fracking in the USA (Part 2), health professionals in regions where hydraulic fracturing is underway are reporting disturbing health problems among their patients.

The Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air maintains a List of the Harmed which details the human and animal health problems that have been reported by people living near shale gas installations. Common reported symptoms include headaches, nausea, skin problems, fatigue, chronic pain, and respiratory problems. Blood tests have revealed exposure to chemicals such as benzene and phenol.

Earthworks has published two reports, one for Texas and one for Pennsylvania, that compile reported health problems related to shale gas extraction.

There are a number of major, independent studies of the health impacts of hydraulic fracking underway in the USA. One is the Geisinger Health Study, another is the multi-project University of Pennsylvania study being undertaken in collaboration with researchers from Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and the University of North Carolina. The director of the study, Dr. Trevor Penning, recently gave this presentation on the health impacts of hydraulic fracking.

2. Petroleum companies pulling back


Petroleum Companies Puling Back
After Exxon pulled out of Poland, it now seems that Canada's Talisman may soon do the same. It is worth recalling that last year at this time Poland's Geological Institute reduced Poland's estimated reserves from the 5.3 trillion cubic meters estimated by the US Energy Information Agency by five times to about 1 trillion cubic meters.

Additionally, Australia's Metgasco has recently announced that it will suspend coalseam gas exploration in New South Wales due to the introduction of government restrictions.

In other recent news, Cuadrilla Resources has announced that it will suspend its shale gas exploration activities in the UK as it puts together an environmental impact assessment.

3. Difficulties treating fracking wastewater



Fracking Wastewater
As this article in Chemical & Engineering News explains, a new study suggests that watstewater treatment plants may not be capable of effectively treating the high volumes of wastewater that are produced from the process of hydraulic fracking.fracking wastewater. This wastewater contains polluants such as benzene and barium. The study found levels of toxic metals including barium and strontium in post-treatment wastewater that exceeded national drinking water standards.

For more on the problems associated with fracking waste disposal, see this page of the New York Times Drilling Down series that brings together field data, documents, and analysis.

For anyone who may have missed Jessica Ernst's recent speaking tour of Ireland and the UK, here is a video of her presentation in Ennis, Co. Clare, and her slide presentation can be downloaded here.


Issue No. 4     March 15, 2013


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