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What dangers do you face as someone living near a fracking site?

“Fracking” is a nickname assigned to a process known as “hydraulic fracturing.” It’s a process through which oil and gas industry workers drill into the ground creating a well. These workers use high-pressure pumps to quickly transfer sand, water and chemicals underground, a process that can help them tap into and extract gas and oil reserves. 

Anyone who works in this industry puts their health and safety at risk. Those in neighboring communities do so, as well. Here are some of the potential hazards:

Auto accidents

There’s generally an uptick in automobiles moving in and out of fracking job sites as they transport sand, drills, chemicals and other equipment. National Institutes of Health (NIH) data shows that one-third of oil and gas industry workers die in auto accidents. These workers must often travel through residential areas with these materials, often putting people in neighboring communities at risk of getting hurt. 

Toxic exposure

There are many different chemicals or emissions present at fracking sites that can cause long-term health implications, including hydrogen sulfide, methane and nitrogen oxide. These and others may make it into the air or water supply, exposing both workers and area residents to these toxins, many of which cause cancer. 

Explosion, fire and earthquake risks

The infusion of various chemicals and other substances into the ground leaves both workers and area residents vulnerable to dealing with explosions and ensuing fires. The breaking of rock as workers drill into the ground nearby fault lines can also result in earthquakes. Given how these are often unexpected, there’s a strong possibility of someone suffering serious injuries or dying when these occur.  

Researchers are only beginning to scratch the surface in terms of learning the implications of fracking on the environment and both workers’ and residents’ health. 

While fracking is legal here in West Virginia, companies must take necessary steps to protect the residents who live in surrounding communities. You may have a right to hold a well’s owner liable for your medical costs and other expenses if their oversight resulted in your falling ill or getting hurt. 

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