Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Industry Responds to Pollutant-Cancer-Link Letter Coalition Asks Governor to Reject 'Ridiculous Request' to Halt Gas Drilling

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Industry Responds to Pollutant-Cancer-Link Letter Coalition Asks Governor to Reject 'Ridiculous Request' to Halt Gas Drilling

Article excerpt

The Marcellus Shale Coalition is asking Gov. Tom Wolf "to reject the ridiculous request" to shut down shale gas development in southwestern Pennsylvania until the state determines whether its pollutants are linked with childhood cancer.

"Fundamentally, it is shameful to exploit the very real and heartbreaking issues associated with childhood cancer; they should not be fodder to advance a political agenda," David J. Spigelmyer, president of the coalition, stated Monday in a letter to Mr. Wolf.

The coalition, based in Southpointe in Cecil, Washington County, was created to support the shale gas drilling and fracking industry.

Mr. Spigelmyer's letter is in response to a public letter that more than 100 environmental organizations and 800 individuals signed and emailed Monday to the governor and state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, calling for a department investigation of potential links between shale gas development and a proliferation of childhood cancers.

It also asked that all new shale gas permitting be suspended until the health department determines if such a link exists.

The ongoing Pittsburgh Post-Gazette series, "Human toll: Risk and exposure in the gas lands," documented up to 67 cases of childhood and young adult cancers in Washington, Greene, Fayette and Westmoreland counties, where shale gas operations are active. That total includes 27 cases of Ewing sarcoma over the past decade - a rare bone cancer affecting mostly children and teenagers, with only 250 diagnoses nationwide each year.

Those cases include six within the boundaries of Canon-McMillan School District in Washington County, with 10 students in the district - one now deceased - with other forms of cancer, many of them rare.

Twelve more cases of Ewing sarcoma also have occurred in Westmoreland County over the past eight years.

While noting that the numbers are higher than expected, the health department already has said the Ewing sarcoma cases do not constitute a "cluster. …

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