Yesterday many of Southern Illinois’s elected officials, and representatives of the fossil fuel industry, held a one-hour press conference to complain about the fact that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has still not completed the rule-making process in order for fracking to begin in Illinois. Fracking is a controversial process used to drill for oil & gas. Millions of gallons of water, mixed with toxic chemicals and sand, are injected into mile-long horizontal wells at high pressure to fracture rock layers and release oil and gas.
It is important that the public is aware of the dangers inherent in fracking jobs. Within one year in Texas 65 oil & gas workers died, 79 lost limbs, 82 were crushed, 92 suffered burns & 675 broke bones. The fatality rate among oil and gas workers is nearly eight times higher than the all-average rate of 3.2 deaths for every 100,000 workers across all industries.
A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study revealed that worker exposure to crystalline silica—or “frac sand” —exceeded “relevant occupational health criteria” at all eleven tested sites, and the magnitude of some exposures exceeded their limits by a factor of 10 or more. “Personal respiratory protection alone is not sufficient to adequately protect against workplace exposures.” Inhalation of crystalline silica can cause incurable silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney disease and autoimmune diseases.
Representative Brandon Phelps stated at the press conference that North Dakota should be a model for Southern Illinois. A report by the AFL-CIO found that the fracking boom has made North Dakota the most dangerous state for U.S. workers—with a fatality rate five times higher than the national average—and that North Dakota’s fatality rate has doubled since 2007. The AFL-CIO called North Dakota “an exceptionally dangerous and deadly place to work.”
Statistics provided by THE COMPENDIUM OF SCIENTIFIC, MEDICAL, AND MEDIA FINDINGS DEMONSTRATING RISKS AND HARMS OF FRACKING (UNCONVENTIONAL GAS AND OIL EXTRACTION)