Gas drilling health study still collecting Pa. data - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Gas drilling health study still collecting Pa. data

Posted: Updated:
  • Local NewsMore>>

  • 13 County Coalitions Come Together To Prevent Substance Abuse

    13 County Coalitions Come Together To Prevent Substance Abuse

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:00 AM EDT2014-04-23 04:00:20 GMT
    It was all about celebrating recovery at the Clarksburg Baptist Church Tuesday evening .Coalition programs from thirteen different counties came together with some local officials to talk about the importance of preventing substance abuse.
    It was all about celebrating recovery at the Clarksburg Baptist Church Tuesday evening .Coalition programs from thirteen different counties came together with some local officials to talk about the importance of preventing substance abuse.
  • Volunteers Spruce Up Bridgeport Lakes With 'Community Clean Up Day'

    Volunteers Spruce Up Bridgeport Lakes With 'Community Clean Up Day'

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 11:35 PM EDT2014-04-23 03:35:46 GMT
    Tuesday turned out to be a beautiful evening for dozens of Bridgeport residents, who came out in support of Earth Day to spruce up Hinkle and Deegan Lakes.
    Tuesday turned out to be a beautiful evening for dozens of Bridgeport residents, who came out in support of Earth Day to spruce up Hinkle and Deegan Lakes.
  • Senator Rockefeller and Ted Koppel Host a Fireside Chat at WV Wesleyan

    Senator Rockefeller and Ted Koppel Host a Fireside Chat at WV Wesleyan

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:40 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:40:43 GMT
    It was a celebratory day at West Virginia Wesleyan College as Senator Jay Rockefeller returned to campus for the first time in nearly eight years in an event with journalist Ted Koppel. 
    It was a celebratory day at West Virginia Wesleyan College as Senator Jay Rockefeller returned to campus for the first time in nearly eight years in an event with journalist Ted Koppel. 
  • EnergyEnergyMore>>

  • Marshall Co. makes plans for natural gas combined cycle power plant

    Marshall Co. makes plans for natural gas combined cycle power plant

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:42 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:42:40 GMT
    The project still needs to obtain state and federal approvals to develop and build the plant, but organizers anticipate construction to begin in 2015 and operations to begin by 2018.
    The project still needs to obtain state and federal approvals to develop and build the plant, but organizers anticipate construction to begin in 2015 and operations to begin by 2018.
  • WV DEP Lifts Cease Operations Order to Antero at Harrison, Doddridge Sites

    WV DEP Lifts Cease Operations Order to Antero at Harrison, Doddridge Sites

    Monday, April 21 2014 1:00 PM EDT2014-04-21 17:00:50 GMT
    The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the Office of Oil and Gas have issued violation notices to Antero Resources.
    The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the Office of Oil and Gas have issued violation notices to Antero Resources.
  • Fracking foes cringe as unions back drilling boom

    Fracking foes cringe as unions back drilling boom

    Monday, April 21 2014 8:51 AM EDT2014-04-21 12:51:19 GMT
    After early complaints that out-of-state firms got the most jobs, some local construction trade workers and union members in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia say they're now benefiting in a big way from the Marcellus and Utica Shale oil and gas boom.That vocal support from blue-collar workers complicates efforts by environmentalists to limit the drilling process known as fracking.
    After early complaints that out-of-state firms got the most jobs, some local construction trade workers and union members in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia say they're now benefiting in a big way from the Marcellus and Utica Shale oil and gas boom.That vocal support from blue-collar workers complicates efforts by environmentalists to limit the drilling process known as fracking.
PITTSBURGH, PA (AP) -

Almost two years after it began, a much-publicized plan to study possible health impacts from gas drilling is still in the process of collecting data.

Geisinger Health Systems, of Danville, began seeking partners for the long-term project in early 2012. It's secured at least $1.3 million in funding and has attracted a wide range of medical, environmental and academic partners. For now, the main goal is to build a data warehouse available to researchers.

Geisinger spokeswoman Patti Urosevich said in an email that the project has collected Pennsylvania data on traffic and accidents, air pollution emissions, and the locations of thousands of gas wells and more than 600 compressor stations, which feed the gas through pipelines.

Urosevich wrote that once the data warehouse is complete, researchers will be able to identify and investigate trends by merging health information with data such as geography, traffic, or the environment.

Guthrie Health, of Sayre, and Susquehanna Health are other major partners in the study, and as a group they have access to detailed health histories of hundreds of thousands of patients who live near wells and other facilities that are producing natural gas from the underground Marcellus Shale formation.

The Marcellus lies under large parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York. While the boom in drilling has generated jobs and billions of dollars in revenue for companies and individual leaseholders, it also raised health concerns.

One public health expert welcomed the Geisinger work but said a bigger problem remains: the state of Pennsylvania isn't doing enough to fund even basic research into possible health impacts of gas drilling.

It's the state's responsibility to collect public health data, said Bernard Goldstein, a professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health who is not part of the Geisinger project.

Goldstein noted that a state commission suggested two years ago that the Department of Health be given $2 million to create a statewide health registry to track illnesses potentially related to gas drilling. But representatives from Gov. Tom Corbett's office and the state Senate cut the funding.

Alan Krupnick, an energy and risk management expert who's on the Geisinger project executive committee, wrote in an email that health care providers "are sitting on a treasure trove of health data" that could be compared to shale gas development "to find out if and the extent to which these activities are affecting health."

Krupnick is a researcher at Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C. think tank.

In early December, the Geisinger project was awarded a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Geological Survey to survey and test 72 private water wells in Lycoming County, which has seen heavy drilling activity. Urosevich said that work should provide insights "into the possible effects of natural gas drilling, agriculture, leaking septic systems and industries on the groundwater."

Geisinger researchers say they plan to study rates of asthma, premature births, and motor vehicle injuries in areas with heavy drilling activity, but there's no specific schedule for publishing.

In a recent newsletter that discussed the project, lead researcher David Carey said timing is critical.

"If we wait too long, it will be hard to get baseline data," Carey said, adding that they need to move toward "doing some analysis."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.