There was a radio story this morning about workers at a health clinic in Burgettstown (west of Pittsburgh, PA) getting sick from fumes. They're temporarily moving the clinic.
Published: May 15, 2012
by Rob Stein
Kay Allen had just started work, and everything seemed quiet at the Cornerstone Care community health clinic in Burgettstown, Pa. But things didn't stay quiet for long. "All the girls, they were yelling at me in the back, 'You gotta come out here quick. You gotta come out here quick,'" said Allen, 59, a nurse from Weirton, W.Va. Allen rushed out front and knew right away what all the yelling was about. The whole place reeked — like someone had spilled a giant bottle of nail polisher remover. "So I told everybody to get outside and get fresh air. So we went outside. And Aggie said, 'Kay, I'm gonna be sick.' But before I get in, to get something for her to throw up in — she had to go over the railing," she said.
Nothing like this had ever happened in the 20 years that Allen has been at the clinic. After about 45 minutes, she thought the coast was clear and took everyone back inside. "It was fine. But the next thing you know, they're calling me again. There was another gust. Well, the one girl, Miranda, she was sitting at the registration place, and you could tell she'd had too much of it. And Miranda got overcome by that and she passed out," she said.
'It's The Unknown I Think That's The Scariest Thing'
This sort of thing has been happening for weeks. Mysterious gusts of fumes keep wafting through the clinic. In fact, just the day before being interviewed by NPR, Allen suddenly felt like she'd been engulfed by one of these big invisible bubbles. "And all of a sudden your tongue gets this metal taste on it. And it feels like it's enlarging, and it just feels like you're not getting enough air in, because your throat gets real 'burn-ey.' And the next I know I ... passed out," Allen said.
Half a dozen of Allen's co-workers stopped coming in. One old-timer quit. No one can figure out what's going on. For doctors and nurses used to taking care of sick people, it's unnerving to suddenly be the patients. "It's the unknown I think that's the scariest thing," she said.
Richard Rinehart, who runs the rural clinic, can't help but wonder whether the natural gas drilling going on all around the area may have something to do with what's been happening. "I lay at bed at night thinking all kinds of theories. Is something coming through the air from some process that they're using? I know they use a lot of chemicals and so forth. Certainly that could be a culprit. We're wondering, Is something coming through the ground?" Rinehart said, noting that he'd just noticed a new drill on a hill overlooking the back of the clinic.
Now, no one knows whether the gas drilling has anything to do with the problems at the clinic. It could easily turn out to be something completely unrelated. There's a smelting plant down the road and old coal mines everywhere. "Anything could be possible, and we just are trying to get to the root of it," he said.
Mysterious Symptoms, Lots Of Questions
People living near gas well drilling around the country are reporting similar problems, plus headaches, rashes, wheezing, aches and pains and other symptoms. Doctors like Julie DeRosa, who works at Cornerstone, aren't sure how to help people with these mysterious symptoms. "I don't want to ignore symptoms that may be clues to a serious condition. I also don't want to order a lot of unnecessary tests. I don't want to feed any kind of hysteria," DeRosa said.
To try to figure out what's going on, the clinic called the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which is investigating. It also started testing the air for chemicals, monitoring wind direction around the clinic and keeping diaries of everyone's symptoms. In addition, the clinic contacted Raina Rippel, project director for the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project.
The local nonprofit was set up recently to help people in this kind of situation. Her team tested tap water from inside a men's room and from a stream out back. Rippel knows people in the area have lot of questions.
"Is my water fit to drink? Is the air fit to breathe? Am I going to suffer long-term health impacts from this?" she said.
Charles Werntz at West Virginia University, an occupational medicine specialist, is used to dealing with chemical exposures. Lately, he's seeing more people who live near the drilling. But for now, he says he can't really do much more than offer basic advice: Drink bottled water, air out the house, leave your shoes outside. If it's still too bad, move — if possible.
Back at Cornerstone, Rinehart just wants to get back to taking care of patients. "We are in the business of trying to improve and maintain the public's health here. And now we are in the throes of it. And we're trying not to point fingers," Rinehart said. The next day, people got sick again and the clinic had to be evacuated once more. So they've moved the clinic to temporary offices until someone figures out what's going on.
[see http://m.npr.org/news/front/152268475?singlePage=true for complete article]
I used an EPA approved gas can yesterday it has no vent so the gas fumes stay in the can,it was sitting in the sun outside not very hot maybe 70's put it in the gas tank pushed the button to release the gas and it sprayed all over my eyes and face,the presure built up inside the can,real smart EPA YOU IDIOTS NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT.
RE: "gas and it sprayed all over my eyes and face"
It is obvious that you are not one of the Anti-Fracers; they would have blamed the nearby drilling of a Natural Gas Well for your burning eyes and stinging face.
If you had "played your cookies right", WHAT-THE-HECKbert or Krazy Katherine or Whineing Willie would have told your sad story of being Face-Fraced all over the web.
They might have even made a movie about you.
By confessing what really happened on a public forum, you have just squandered the opportunity to sue Range Resources, or Cabot or CHK (or heck, all of them).
Better luck next time.
RE: "EPA YOU IDIOTS NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT"
They may not be too good at designing Gas Cans; but you have to admit - the EPA is darned good at testing Dimock well water.
If a lie is repeated often enough and loudly enough - many will come to believe those lies - many have come to believe those lies.
At every push the liars/distorters make, we need to push back - and push back hard.
There are many who believed that their German neighbors were too civilized to engage in the rumored atrocities; some likely believed that until they were boarding the cattle cars destined for Auschwitz.
We should not ignore the evil agenda that lurks in the words of the Anti-Fracers.
We should not ignore the power in the lies and distortions of the Anti-Fracers.
I am with you there Jack and reporting for duty !
Jack, I suffer from the same maladies... LOL , me too.
RE: "You believe in inciting fear in others and taking away the rights of individuals and corporations based upon innuendo and anecdotal stories, no proof"
I view the actions you describe as despicable; the internet equivalent of "crying fire" in a crowded movie theater.
I think that the individual who posts such garbage should feel as sick when they look in the mirror as I do as I attempt to avert my eyes from their silly grinning face. His Mother must be proud of him - NOT!
Does any one know if this Paul fella has any land to lease ?
I think this Allen person was ingulfed by a bath tub stinker that nearly made them pass out.
Or maybe it was all of that BS that comes from NPR . Your thoughts .
The saddest thing about continued aimless cries of fire is the numbing effect it has on folks and potential tradgedy if a real alarm is sounded.
That's what im gonna mr. rig by the way cool name !
mr.rig !!! the truth will set us free !!!!