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NY report: Gas drilling safe under proposed rules

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm •  Published: January 3, 2013

The document appears to have been written for inclusion in the larger environmental impact study. It describes potential health risks associated with fracking and shale gas development such as exposure to chemicals, contamination of drinking water sources, air pollution, and contact with radioactive elements brought up from deep underground. It references sections of the environmental impact study that address each potential risk and related safety measures to prevent harm.

The document says "significant adverse impacts on human health are not expected from routine (fracking) operations. When spills or accidents occur, the department has identified numerous additional mitigation measures, including emergency-response planning, setbacks and buffers, so that significant exposures to people and resources on which they rely are unlikely."

One of the biggest criticisms health and environmental groups have concerning DEC's environmental impact study is that it doesn't include a comprehensive health impact study conducted by outside experts with public participation. The DEC document says state and federal laws support DEC's contention that public health and safety should be addressed in an environmental impact study.

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens in September rejected calls for a separate health study by outside experts. Instead, he said the Health Department and a panel of outside experts would review what DEC had already done.

Although its overall environmental impact study hasn't been completed, the agency released related fracking regulations last month with a public comment period that ends on Jan. 11. The agency has until the end of February to adopt those regulations. Missing that deadline would mean reopening the regulatory process with additional public comment.