Fracking and cancer in Texas

Posted by Christine, October 30, 2011
Dawn Tongish The 33 News October 18, 2011

FLOWER MOUND, TX—

Lorrie Squibb remembers many days when she didn’t feel well, but she didn’t know why.

“I was just sick, month after month,” said the mother of two.

Squibb says two months after she moved from Flower Mound to Michigan in 2010, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that is often associated with factory exposure to toxins in men.

“I am a stay at home Mom so there is no explanation about where I could have contracted this,” Squibb said from her Michigan home.

People still living in the area surrounding Squibb’s old neighborhood in Wellington Estates in Flower Mound are concerned about possible cancer clusters, after a string of leukemia cases in children and breast cancer in women.

Residents wonder if the danger isn’t just down the street, where there is natural gas drilling in the Barnett Shale. State air testing near some natural gas facilities revealed high levels of benzene, a cancer-causing toxin.

“People are getting sick and it doesn’t matter what color they are or their economic situation,” Sharon Wilson, organizer with the Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project, said.

The blogger believes that chemicals used in the drilling process may be playing a role in the spike in cancer rates. She wants the state to better investigate a possible connection.

“The thing that all of these people have in common is oil and gas drilling in their neighborhood.”

But Texas health officials haven’t found a link. They investigated increasing breast cancer rates in six counties in North Texas; Denton, Tarrant, Hood, Parker, Johnson and Wise. Reports say all six have the highest amount of Barnett Shale production equipment. But, authorities say the rates were considered normal, even though they were elevated.

As for Squibb, her cancer is in remission but, she worries about friends still living near drill sites.

“I am scared to death to go back there.”