AFL-CIO Letter on Fracking Safety and Health to OSHA, NIOSH & MSHA
Fracking - short for "hydraulic fracturing" is a technique for recovering the huge amounts of natural gas and liquid hydrocarbon trapped in the shale deposits that underlie much of the United States, especially Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York. The fracking process injects pressurized water with sand and various chemicals into the shale, creating tiny cracks that release the gas.
Natural gas is a much cleaner fuel than coal, and it generates less of the carbon dioxide that causes greenhouse warming. It could also help make the United States energy independent, and create millions of jobs. But it has to be done safely. A recent study by the National institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) showed that fracking workers are exposed to very high levels of silica dust from the sand used in fracking fluids. Silica causes a severe and sometimes fatal lung disease, silicosis. NIOSH measured exposures that were up to 100 times the recommended safe levels. Fracking workers face many other safety and health hazards; along with other oil and gas well workers, they face a death rate from occupational injuries that is seven times the national average.
This week the USW joined the AFL-CIO and the United Mineworkers in demanding action by the US government to address these hazards. Click here to read the letter.