SB3330 – Patients and the Medical Community Deserve Full Chemical Disclosure

Check the status of this bill: SB3330

The Risk:  A recent Wall Street Journal report looked at 11 of the country’s biggest energy-producing states and found that – “At least 15.3 million Americans lived within a mile of a well that has been drilled since 2000”- the fracturing boom and its toxins are hitting close to many homes.

  • Fracturing exposes both workers and residents to a wide variety of toxins via truck accidents, blowouts, fires, spills, air pollution and water contamination. Over 2,500 chemicals have now been identified as being used in fracturing fluids at one site or another. Each well site is different in the makeup of its toxic cocktail, but many of the frequently used chemicals are extremely hazardous to human health. Fracturing is so dangerous that recently, Environment America delivered letters from more than 1,000 doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to President Obama asserting that fracking should be stopped, given the overwhelming threats to public health. www.environmentamerica.org/news/amc/1000-health-professionals-call-president-obama-act-fracking
  • Disclosure of fracturing chemical information is critical to protecting the public’s and worker’s health. A review of the available information on the chemicals that are known reveals that: 78 % of fracturing chemicals are associated with serious short-term health effects such as burning eyes, rashes, burns, asthma-like effects, nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, tremors, convulsions and even death. Between 22% and 47 % of those chemicals are also associated with longer-term health effects, including cancer, organ damage, and harm to the endocrine system.
  • Physicians and emergency responders must know all of the chemicals that workers and the public might have been exposed to in order to give timely and correct treatments for their medical conditions.
  • The EPA agrees that first responders have a right to know what they and patients are being exposed to in these frack fluids, “The U.S. EPA told the state (Ohio) that a 12-year-old Ohio law that lets the fracking industry conceal information from emergency-management officials and first responders violates federal law”.  They stated that the Right-to-Know Act of 1986 requires companies to share a hazardous-chemical inventory with local officials.” http://grist.org/news/epa-tells-ohio-to-stop-keeping-fracking-secrets-from-first-responders/ 

Overview:

  • Under President Bush and Vice President Cheney, fracturing was exempted from significant EPA regulation. When it comes to protecting underground sources of drinking water or chemical disclosure, fracturing is not subject to the same standards as all other industries which use chemicals.
  • In 2005, Congress created exemptions in seven federal environmental laws for fracturing, to benefit Halliburton and other oil and gas companies. The single most important exemption given to the fracturing industry was the exemption under the Safe Drinking Water Act. For reasons stated as “proprietary”, but which seemingly have more to do with limiting liability, the oil and gas industry is the only industry granted an exemption from complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act. If the industry was not exempted from this federal law, they would be required to fully disclosure all chemicals used on the frack fields.

and per this chart of several states put together by Propublica: http://www.propublica.org/special/fracking-chemical-disclosure-rules

Problem:

  • Under HFRA, the identity of many of the chemicals used by the industry in fracturing operations could be considered a trade secret. It is up to the administrative judgment of the IDNR for that determination.
  • HFRA exempts oil and gas companies from adhering to the Illinois medical standard of full chemical disclosure to physicians, exposed patients and their families and places the burden of proof of harm on physicians rather than on oil and gas companies.
  • Under current law physicians must call the IDNR or an unidentified “trade secret holder” during normal business hours. Or if after hours, the physicians must track down the managers of the drilling operations in the field in order to obtain chemical information. Neither of these parties are: medically trained, obligated to disclose any chemical information, nor are they under any sort of time limit for disclosing said information.
  • Under current law, if full chemical disclosure is given for medical reasons, then physicians, nurses, emergency responders, patients, family members, laboratory technicians and many allied health professionals would all have to be tracked down and asked to sign non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements, if the knowledge of a chemical exposure was shared with them for medical treatment purposes. This onerous burden of keeping track of which health professionals know about the chemical disclosure for a certain patient would lie squarely on the backs of physicians and other medical personnel, and is absolutely unreasonable. The rights of a corporation to trade secrets end when their liability for allowing chemical exposure begins!
  • Here is what the Physicians For Social Responsibility-LA chapter has to say about the ramifications to the medical community and their patients of the gagging of physicians with non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements: http://www.psr-la.org/dont-gag-docs/.  Gagging Physicians and other health professionals limits their ability to do research in order to understand the short and long-term impacts of chemicals used in fracturing. The free flow of medical knowledge and experience, via consultations and case studies, is vital to the care of patients and the dissemination of medically related “best practices”.

Purpose of the bill:

  • Amends HFRA to make oil and gas companies submit 2 copies of chemical disclosure, 1 redacted – with trade secrets unreadable, and 1 non-redacted with the full chemical disclosure at the time of permit application and, if the permit is approved, to promptly notify the IDNR of all future changes in chemical use. The redacted report will be made public in an online database, search able by well name and location. The non-redacted report will be made available to medical and emergency responders through the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Poison Control Center.
  • Prohibits parties performing fracturing from using any chemical not disclosed on these master lists.
  • Outlaws trade secret claims for lists submitted to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois Poison Control Center, and subsequently to healthcare providers.
  • Allows rapid access to full chemical disclosure at the time of emergency medical treatment of patients exposed to these chemicals and allows medical professionals to share chemical information with affected patients, their family members (if patient is unconscious), and all other professionally necessary parties, without non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements.

Solution: Co-sponsor and support SB3330, to protect Illinois citizens in cases of medical emergency resulting from exposure to  fracturing chemicals. Make our Illinois statute the best in the nation by requiring rapid access to full chemical disclosure for all medical professionals and emergency responders. Give the responsibility of full chemical disclosure to the IDPH and the Illinois Poison Center, rather than the IDNR. Relieve medical and emergency personnel of the responsibility of proving the need for full chemical disclosure to non-medically trained individuals, and the onerous burden of non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements. The need for timely and complete chemical disclosure for the good of the public’s health is obvious and must be the foremost consideration for IL lawmakers, trumping any other consideration, including proprietary information.

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One response to “SB3330 – Patients and the Medical Community Deserve Full Chemical Disclosure

  1. Pingback: “The Green Dozen” | Frack Free Illinois

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