Cumberland Times-News

Local News

June 16, 2014

Health implications of fracking focus of Garrett meeting

June 28 event open to public

— MCHENRY — A public presentation on the health implications of fracking to be held June 28 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. in the Garrett College auditorium will include time for community comments and questions.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.

Dr. Sacoby Wilson, Dr. Amir Sapkota and other team members from the University of Maryland’s Institute for Applied Environmental Health will deliver the presentation. “We are looking forward to reporting to the community on our results, conclusions and recommendations,” Wilson said.  

Last fall, Wilson and his team met with community members to compile a list of issues and questions they wanted addressed by the public health study. The comments made in those meetings were written up and are available to read at www.marcellushealth.org. 

This is also an opportunity to hear more about the work of Maryland’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.   

Representatives of the Allegany and Garrett county health departments will be present.

The June 28 meeting will be an opportunity to understand existing threats to Allegany and Garrett County air quality and why citizens may want to be trained to conduct their own air quality monitoring in addition to that being done by the state.

Pre-existing environmental threats need to be documented, so that if fracking is permitted, officials and scientists can determine if new problems with air, soil or water contamination are emerging. For public health purposes, it will be important to know if illnesses can be attributed to any phases of gas extraction and production.  

The meeting is hosted by the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park. MIAEH requests an RSVP at meleahboyle@gmail.com.

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