Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Newberry Proposal Needs More Scrutiny



As I write this, the Sept 13 issue of the Source lies to the left of my keyboard and the Sept. 3 issue of American Medical News (the newsletter of the American Medical Association), sits to the right.  The Source starts with a letter, "Help Stop the Fracking of the Newberry Volcano," which outlines possible side effects of fracking Newberry, including earthquakes, groundwater pollution via the release of naturally occurring elements, and groundwater pollution by the injection of chemicals designed to disrupt underground geology. 
Meanwhile, a front page article in the medical newsletter, "Doctors Fight Gag Orders Over Fracking," reports that after drinking groundwater tainted by fracking, several unrelated people appeared in a Pennsylvania emergency room with bleeding oozing lesions covering their faces. Another patient suffering from side effects of fracking had low platelet levels, anemia, rashes, and renal failure requiring dialysis and chemotherapy.  The Source letter explains that some synthetic chemicals will be injected deep into the ground around Newberry.  The medical newsletter explains that when people get sick from drinking fracked groundwater, there is no way for doctors to learn what chemicals patients were exposed to near drilling sites because the information remains protected as a trade secret unless lawmakers dictate otherwise.

Have lawmakers "dictated otherwise" around here?  According to the medical newsletter, only thirteen states (and not Oregon) have approved rules requiring fracking companies to disclose the chemicals they inject into the ground.  Even in states where doctors might learn the chemicals people have been exposed to, they could be prohibited from disclosing the information elsewhere, like to public health officials.

I'd like to know more about the possible problems of fracking Newberry.  Can the Source put a reporter on that?  In addition to synthetic chemicals, there appear to be various other risks of which we have been poorly appraised.  The American Medical News article reminds us of the usual story in this country of a system established to favor of big industry and private profits while the average citizen shoulders all the side effects. In a country like that, whom can we trust to protect our precious Central Oregon geology and groundwater?


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