Energy. Environment. Economy.

2012 NY State Dept. of Health Document Says Fracking Can Be Safe

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A drill rig in Susquehanna County.

A document acquired by the public radio project Innovation Trail, reveals New York state’s public health department concludes fracking can be done safely. The report, written almost a year ago, discussed health risks associated with gas drilling, but says proper safety measures to prevent exposure to chemicals and naturally occurring radioactive material, would reduce health risks. Here’s more from WXXI’s Karen DeWitt:

“The report, written in February of 2012, says “significant adverse impacts on human health are not expected from routine HVHF (hydro fracking) operations.”

New York state has a moratorium on fracking, pending new environmental regulations, and a health impact study.

“The report appears to have been intended for inclusion in the state’s ongoing environmental review of fracking. It also advises against trying to do a site specific quantitative risk assessment of fracking, saying there are too many variables and that too many assumptions would have to be made.”

But a spokesperson for New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation tells WXXI that no conclusions should be drawn from the document.

“The document is not a health assessment, is nearly a year old, and does not reflect final DEC policy,” said DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis in a statement. “The final SGEIS will reflect the review currently underway by DOH and its outside experts. No conclusions should be drawn from this partial, outdated summary.”


  • Hugh Kimball

    Read the story. The headline is totally misleading. The leaked document is over a year old. Since then DEC has apparently done a study of health impacts which is under review. No one in the public knows what is going to be in the SGEIS, but to latch onto this non-story and put “NYS says it can be safe” is nonsense.

    Most of us who have followed the issue for the past four ot more years, know that fracking has not been done safely and that there are a number of instances of water, air and ground pollution from migrating methane, spills, accidents, mishandling of flowback, etc. I saw a list yesterday of 650 people in PA who have had adverse physical reactions from being near drilling areas. There are also instances of farm animals dying or requiring quarantines because of exposure to fluids.

  • gawker

    This is irresponsible journalism — the first misleading headline in the Times was bad enough, but then for a news outlet like an NPR affiliate — especially in IMPACTED PA — to parrot it is worse. Anyone who says fracking is safe or wants fracking to be safe should believe in unicorns too. State Impact PA, you must know this by now with all you have seen and reported related to HVHF in your state.

  • GrandmasThinking

    This “report” that is being shared in the media is a sham and a shame! I wrote an at length comment on my blog. Those that broke the story are guilty of the worst journalism tactics and misleading the American citizens.

  • MariCW

    If only Susan Phillips would stress the NYS Health Department report is a year old and a summary as opposed to the headline claim that “NYS Department of Health…Says Fracking Can Be Safe.” An Environmental Impact Statement is pending, and the important point is that the state is operating backwards in having released proposed regulations, with a very short 30 day public comment period, before bringing out the SGEIS.

    There is a great deal of secrecy surrounding the Environmental Impact Statement while there should be complete transparency due to the possible dangers of fracking to public health, water, air, land and the climate. It is important to consider both sides in the matter of fracking when reporting on this.

  • Lij Lij Briggy

    The report is from Feb. 2012! Why is the media picking this up and throwing this BS out!? My brother called me yesterday on the phone ranting about this and I didn’t even know about it until I got the link. This is arm twisting by the media to hype up and tell people UNTRUE reporting. When are we going to get back to real investigative reporting to HELP the public , not the industry.

  • GrandmasThinking

    Susan – you would do great justice to your excellent reporting record by modifying / editing the context of this article to reflect the truth of what happened by the media in releasing this so called report and headline.

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