Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

July 2, 2014

Fracking also adversely affects air quality and public safety

— We thank Greg Larry for his article this morning, “Study completed on fracking,” June 30, 2014. Of course everything in a two-hour meeting could not be fit into a newspaper article, and as a physician and a professor of emergency health services, and as Garrett County residents, we believe there was additional information the public should be aware of.

If we allow outside companies to fracture Maryland shale, the state of Maryland study group found there was a moderate risk of groundwater contamination hazards in Garrett and Allegany counties. The risk of air quality hazards, however, was considered high, and they acknowledged these include asthma, cancer and infant birth defects.

There was also the highest level of risk to public safety, including increased crime, drug use, sexually transmitted diseases and traffic injuries and fatalities. The truck drivers brought in to work in fracking areas are exempt from federal transportation safety requirements.

It was acknowledged in the presentation that fracking would require more police, more paramedics, more ambulances, more drug interdiction, more traffic patrols, more medical treatment facilities, and a level of hazmat response not currently available in Garrett County. It was acknowledged that the local communities would be responsible for these costs through taxes.

We know from the experience in Pennsylvania that property owners relying on well water and living near fracking areas would be faced with these taxes at the same time as their property values are falling.

Mike Weddle, MD

Lonaconing

Richard Bissell, PhD, professor of emergency health services, UMBC

Lonaconing

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