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Ohio Utica Shale

Fight continues over sealing family's medical records

By Bob Downing Published: May 1, 2012

A Pennsylvania court should disclose the legal settlement between a family that claimed natural gas drilling threatened its health and several gas producers, said a coalition of environmental and health groups in a Monday teleconference.

Sealing the court records contribites to a veil of secrecy that makes it impossible for doctors to assess the potential impacts of drilling, said Jerome Paulson of the Washington-based Child Health Advocacy Institute.

 The institute and other physicians' groups, plus two newspapers, have joined an appeal of a January order by Washington County Common Pleas Judge Paul Pozonsky that sealed the documents.

The case involves a family that sued Range Resources Corp. and other companies after the parents and childtren began suffering health symptoms they blamed on hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Last year, the parties reached a confidential settlement.

"We know that there are many chemicals used in the process of unconventional gas extraction," Paulson said. "We do not know all the chemicals that are intentionally used. Without this data and data about releases of chemicals to air and water, physicians and public health officials are in an untenable position of trying to help individuals who are ill."

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