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."
Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.
Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.
Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.
Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.
No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.
Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.