October 1st, 2018
Governor: State of New York
Office of the Governor
110 State Street,
Albany, NY 11224
Dear Governor Hollis,
My name is Courtney J. Sadler and I am a Public Health Consultant for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). In my role as a Public Health Consultant, I study possible environmental health threats due to natural gas extraction, hazardous waste management techniques and possible community health outcomes near hydraulic fracking sites (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 2018). I am writing to you in support of continuing the ban of hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale Area of New York because of the potential of various environmental health impacts imposed in surrounding communities.
Surrounding community residents who live near a hydraulic fracking site could be negatively impacted by water consumption and contamination of drinking wells located close to the hydraulic site (“Final Supplemental Generic..”, 2015).The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, acknowledges that injection of hydraulic fracking fluids into depths of the ground, and wells, could lead to contamination of ground water resources in which humans consume (“Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas,” 2016). This can also be demonstrated statistically from a 2011 study that compared 60 water samples taken from drinking wells located in northeast Pennsylvania to southwest New York that were tested for water contamination. Researchers found that 51/60 wells in this specific geographic region had methane concentrate within the water and the wells located close to natural-gas wells had approximately 17 times higher methane concentrate than non-natural-gas wells (Osborn, Vengosh, Warner & Jackson, 2011). The Department of Interior action level of methane concentrate is 10-28mg/L and the highest finding of methane concentrate, during this study, was 64 mg/L (Osborn, Vengosh, Warner & Jackson, 2011).
These numerical findings were statistically significant due the hazardous level and need for action due to health threats imposed to humans through water consumption and agricultural use. Some health threats of methane, in large concentrates, include respiratory issues (loss of oxygen) and body weakness (“Methane: Your Environment,” n.d.). Due to high concentrations of methane found in the Marcellus Shale area of New York, I would not recommend construction of a new hydraulic fracking site due to adverse health effects it can cause to humans.
Construction of a hydraulic fracking site would cause environmental disturbance to nearby communities. The introduction of a fracking site would cause a higher level of traffic and noise, specifically in regard to large construction trucks, that would introduce further adverse health effects to community residents (“Final Supplemental Generic..”, 2015). Loud noises could cause stress to residents in surrounding communities near site and further complicate infrastructure and local traffic patterns (“Final Supplemental Generic..”, 2015).
In a 2015 report issued by the New York Department of State, public health researchers estimated approximately 2,000 additional construction trucks on the road per day near surrounding communities (“Final Supplemental Generic..”, 2015). The trucks would carry hazardous construction materials and emit a large amount of hazardous particulate matter, PM, into the air (“Final Supplemental Generic..”, 2015). The emission of particulate matter into the air could negatively affect respiratory health in surrounding communities and heat up ozone leading to further climate change (“Final Supplemental Generic..”, 2015). Due to the findings of the New York Department of State, it can be asusmed that new hydraulic fracking sites in the Marcellus Shale area would further compromise the safety and health of surrounding communities and their residents due to hazardous air emissions during construction phases of hydraulic fracking sites.
Introduction of new hydraulic fracking sites in the Marcellus Shale area of New York would also negatively impact current residents in surrounding communities due to an increase of population growth during the construction phase (“Final Supplemental Generic..”, 2015). Growth of population would produce a greater need of local services including fire, police, and health access (“Final Supplemental Generic..”, 2015). Population growth would have an advert effect on annual operating costs of health revenue, increasing demand and causing limited access to health care for current residents (“Final Supplemental Generic..”, 2015). With the significant health risks associated with construction of a hydraulic fracking site, health care will be in high demand and important to sustain surrounding communities near the site. With greater population growth, more health care facilities would need to be built causing higher expenditure costs for the local communities. It would be extremely costly to staff health care facilities and stock with medical supplies/technology and greater construction could increase more particulate matter/air emissions into local communities.
As a public health consultant for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), at this time I would encourage the continuance of the ban of hydraulic fracking sites in the State of New York. My recommendation is based off the assumption that introduction of a new hydraulic fracking site in the Marcellus Shale region would impose adverse health effects to surrounding communities due to water contamination, environmental disturbance, and limited access to health care. In the future, it would be beneficial for new policies to be put in place to heighten protections of water resources to continuously monitor water levels to ensure safety of surrounding community residents (Final Supplemental Generic..”, 2015). It would also be beneficial to explore other avenues of energy production such as renewable energy sources.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (2018, September 21). Retrieved October 1, 2018, from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/FINAL SUPPLEMENTAL GENERIC ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT ON THE OIL, GAS AND SOLUTION MINING REGULATORY PROGRAM: Regulatory Program for Horizontal Drilling and High- Volume Hydraulic Fracturing to Develop the Marcellus Shale and Other Low0 Permeability Gas Reservoirs. (2015). New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 1-44. Retrieved October 2, 2018 from https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/material_minerals_pdf/findings statehvhf62015.pdf
Methane: Your Environment, Your Health, National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2018, from https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/methane
Osborn, S. G., Vengosh, A., Warner, N. R., & Jackson, R. B. (2011). Reply to Saba and Orzechowski and Schon: Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(37). doi:10.1073/pnas.1109270108
U.S. EPA. Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources in the United States (Final Report). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-16/236F, 2016.