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Fracking: Pennsylvania Gags Physicians

frackingA new Pennsylvania law endangers public health by forbidding health care professionals from sharing information they learn about certain chemicals and procedures used in high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing. The procedure is commonly known as fracking.

Over the expected life time of each well, companies may use as many as nine million gallons of water and 100,000 gallons of chemicals and radioactive isotopes within a four to six week period. The additives “are used to prevent pipe corrosion, kill bacteria, and assist in forcing the water and sand down-hole to fracture the targeted formation,” explains Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research. However, about 650 of the 750 chemicals used in fracking operations are known carcinogens, according to a report filed with the U.S. House of Representatives in April 2011. Fluids used in fracking include those that are “potentially hazardous,” including volatile organic compounds, according to Christopher Portier, director of the National Center for Environmental Health, a part of the federal Centers for Disease Control. In an email to the Associated Press in January 2012, Portier noted that waste water, in addition to bring up several elements, may be radioactive. Fracking is also believed to have been the cause of hundreds of small earthquakes in Ohio and other states.


The 10 Scariest Chemicals Used In Hydraulic Fracking

10 scariest chemicals in frackingVast deposits of natural gas have driven a drilling boom stretching across 32 states. The primary way of extracting the natural gas, known as hydraulic fracking, has been considered safe since a 2004 study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that it posed no risk to drinking water.

In 2005 the Bush administration and Congress used the study to justify legislation of the "Halliburton loophole," which exempts hydraulic fracturing from Safe Drinking Water Act. Legislation also exempted the practice, used in 90 percent of U.S. natural gas wells, from the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.


Shell boss admits 207 oil spills in 2011

Shell OilShell chief executive Peter Voser earned more than £10m last year in pay and bonuses at a time of near-record oil prices and in a year when the firm was responsible for 207 oil spills – considerably more than the year before.

The remuneration, made up of salary, bonuses and long-term incentive schemes, was more than double the figure for 2010 but the company said it was justified by Shell's strong operating and share-price performance. The oil firm reported global annual earnings of $28.6bn (£18bn) in 2011 – or more than £2m an hour – a 54% increase on the previous year.


Sea level rise from global warming magnifies coastal flood risk in Washington, D.C., mid-Atlantic

3.7 million at flood risk in USSea level rise resulting from global warming will dramatically increase the risk of storm surge flooding in Washington, D.C. and along much of the U.S. coast, according to a new report from Climate Central, a non-profit science research and communication group. Its report, “Surging Seas” describes the risk of exceeding established flood levels by 2030, when taking projected sea level rise into account.

Here are some key findings from the report, specific to the mid-Atlantic region:


The Pennsylvania gas law fails to protect public health

Marcellus shaleGov. Tom Corbett recently signed a bill that goes beyond just ignoring concerns about the potential human health effects of Marcellus Shale drilling, it retains some of the worst aspects of industry secrecy about proprietary hydrofracking chemicals while making unethical demands on physicians.

Imagine a physician caring for a child whose illness might have been caused by long-term exposure to a proprietary fracking chemical while playing near a drill site. Assume that after signing a legally binding nondisclosure agreement, the physician is given the identity of the chemical and comes to believe it caused the illness. What can the physician tell the families of other neighborhood children who play in the same field?


The Dangerous Myths of Fukushima

Exposing the "No Harm" Mantra

The myth that Fukushima radiation levels were too low to harm humans persists, a year after the meltdown.  A March 2, 2012 New York Times article quoted Vanderbilt University professor John Boice: “there’s no opportunity for conducting epidemiological studies that have any chance for success – the doses are just too low.”  Wolfgang Weiss of the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation also recently said doses observed in screening of Japanese people “are very low.”


Insect Experts Issue 'Urgent' Warning On Using Biotech Seeds

In order to slow down or prevent the spread of resistance, the scientists are calling for big changes in the way that biotech companies, seed dealers and farmers fight this insect. The scientists urge the agency to act "with a sense of some urgency."

The rethinking that's laid out in this letter, in fact, goes beyond what the EPA is able to do under current law. For instance, the researchers want seed companies to stop routinely inserting anti-rootworm genes into their most productive hybrid seed lines. According to the letter, this practice means that farmers "often have few options" apart from rootworm-protected seeds — even in some areas where rootworms don't pose a serious problem.


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