Fracking safety in the news

Fracking is definitely a “hot” topic these day and a lot of the news relates to safety concerns of this very popular method of drilling. Illinois just adopted some of the toughest fracking regulations in the country, most of which are designed to prevent injury or contamination. Among other things, the regulations require the drillers to tell the state ahead of time how they would drill the well; the amount of fluid they will inject to break up the rock formation; how they plan to contain waste; and the names of all of the chemicals they intend to use in the drilling process. People will also have the opportunity to ask for a hearing if they object.

In Pennsylvania, we have regulations on drillers which require them to disclose the chemicals used during the process, but our regulations are not as extensive as the ones just passed in Illinois.


Fracking involves the use of water and chemicals injected under high pressure to break up rock to release natural gas. There is great concern that the chemicals used in the process can contaminate ground water. Also, the drilling operation itself involves a lot of heavy equipment that can lead to accidents and serious injuries.

Here in Pennsylvania, the Geisinger Medical Center is still trying to raise money to do a large study on the health hazards of drilling operations. Apparently, the study is going to cost about $25 million but so fair they have only raised $1 million to fund it. It appears that the purpose of the study will be to track the long-term health history of people who live near to where these drilling operations are taking place. No doubt the big concern is whether these folks show an increased rate of illness or disease that can be linked to the chemicals used in fracking operations.

As we have said in previous comments, drilling for Marcellus shale has certainly been a boost to local and regional economies, but it is not all good news when it comes to fracking. While drilling operations produce jobs for many people, there are dangers and injuries that inevitably go along with those operations.