Community Issues

Open Letter Calls on Gov. Wolf to Investigate Childhood Cancer, Fracking Links

The letter is signed by residents, activists, politicians and environmental groups.


Activists, organizations, politicians and Pennsylvania residents have signed an open letter, asking Governor Tom Wolf (D-PA) to open an investigation into any potential links between cancer cases diagnosed in counties where shale gas drilling, fracking and infrastructure buildout have occurred.

The letter cites an investigative series by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which identified at least 46 children in Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties diagnosed with rare forms of cancer since 2008. The series, Human Toll: Risk and exposure in gaslands, documents at least 27 cases of Ewing sarcoma, a rare bone cancer that nationally only affects between 200 and 250 people each year . The letter calls these cancer rates "heartbreaking," "highly unusual," and a public health crisis. In addition, the signees call on Gov. Wolf to suspend drilling and fracking in the state pending an investigation.

Citing a Yale study, which found at least 55 chemicals used in the fracking process are known, probable or possible carcinogens, the letter says that a formal investigation is needed to identify the cause of the childhood cancer cases.

Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Spigelmyer t old the Post-Gazette "the industry is committed to protecting and enhancing the health and safety of the environment and communities where it operates."

The signees of the letter include five members of the state legislature, actors and activists Mark Ruffalo and Shailene Woodley, and more than 100 other organizations and 800 individuals.

According to the Post-Gazette, environmental groups are delivering the letter to Gov. Wolf and state Health Secretary Rachel Levine today, and plan to hold a demonstration in Harrisburg on Wednesday.

You can click here to read the full letter .

Image courtesy The Office of Gov. Wolf.

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