One thing you can be certain of if you’re living next to a gas well: dust. The photo (provided from a resident of northeast PA) shows a fracking operation near a home. There’s dust from trucks coming and going all hours of the day or night, dust from the drill rig, and dust from the frack job.
Some of this is just plain old ground up soil, but frack sand is special. It’s not dirt; it’s tiny silica crystals – tiny sharp crystals just the right size for breathing in and lodging into the interior of worker’s lungs. Not to mention the lungs of people living and breathing near drill sites.
It can take up to four million pounds of frack sand to stimulate a single well. Sand that starts in Wisconsin and travels by rail to places like Binghamton, NY. From there the sand is loaded onto trucks and hauled, across the state border to drill pads in PA. Sand is spilled in the rail yard, blows out of truck hatches, and ends up in air that people – children, grandparents, mothers and fathers – breathe. These aren’t workers who wear protective respiratory masks. They are… the “collateral damage” of environmental exposure.
Photo-journalist Vera Scroggins recently posted a video from her field trip to the Binghamton rail yard. There’s lots of sand lying around… you can read more about frack sand, health impacts, and see Vera’s video at Marcellus Effect. The “take home” message: sand particles at well pads exceed workplace standards to the point where even respirators aren’t protective.