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Work injury: Warning of cancer-threats of hydraulic fracking

Groups of opponents to the proposed fracking in Illinois made their concerns known at a recent meeting at the offices of Carbondale Township. Their primary concern is the associated risk of exposure to radioactive material that hydraulic fracturing is said to bring about. Not only will it be a source of potentially serious incidents of work injury for those who will be employed at the proposed sites but may also be a health threat to surrounding communities.

Those who are opposed say their concerns over environmental contamination are added to those about the earthquake links to the high-pressure injections of fluids into underground cavities. A spokesperson says the proposed well site is in White County where studies have shown a natural occurrence of radioactive materials. According to results of the study, the shale of Southern Illinois contain unusually high percentages of radioactive materials.

The concerned groups used North Dakota and Pennsylvania as examples to illustrate the damage caused by radioactive contamination in those areas. During fracking operations, the oil and gas containing sediments and rock also carry uranium, radium, thorium and more radioactive elements. These are present in the drilling mud, which is the drilling fluid and cuttings that are carried from the well by the drill bit.

Reportedly, consuming radium can cause leukemia, bone cancer and lymphoma while gamma rays are emitted from the same element, raising the cancer risk. When a worker on a fracking well site in Illinois develops a dreaded disease like cancer, obtaining workers' compensation benefits is considerably more difficult than if he or she had suffered a more visible work injury, such as a bone fracture or burns. To prove that such a disease is work related, the skills of an experienced workers' comp attorney may be necessary.

Source: thesouthern.com, "Groups warn of radiation exposure associated with fracking", Barb Eidlin, June 22, 2017

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