The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Fracking Our Food Supply—New Reports of Livestock Illnesses
By Amy Mall
I've blogged before about farmers and ranchers reporting serious illnesses in their livestock that they believe were caused by nearby oil and gas operations. They report that their veterinarians have ruled out all other potential causes. These reports have come from Colorado, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and North Dakota.
There's a recent article in The Nation about this topic, and it was disturbing enough to warrant another blog post on this topic. The article tells the story of Jacki Schilke, a cattle rancher in the Bakken shale area of North Dakota. There are 32 oil wells within three miles of her ranch.
In the summer of 2010, there was a problem at a nearby oil well. Soon, Schilke observed cattle limping with swollen legs and infections, cows stopped producing milk, animals lost from sixty to eighty pounds in a week and their tails fell off. The Nation website has a photo of one of the cows, which looks very sickly and has lost most of its tail.
By the end of the year, five cows, several cats and two dogs had died. The reporter who wrote the article observed a dozen cats sneezing and coughing, and said she saw "some with their heads tilted at a creepy angle."
At least some animals died of “dust pneumonia” (if you haven't heard of this before, I highly recommend The Dust Bowl on PBS). Air testing on the Schilke ranch found benzene, methane, chloroform, butane, propane, toluene and xylene—toxic substances that can cause serious illnesses, including cancer. Water testing found sulfates, chromium, chloride strontium and selenium. There are an estimated 300 trucks a day on their dirt road, hauling frac-sand, water, potentially toxic waste, fracking chemicals and equipment, and creating enormous amounts of dust.
Jacki and her husband report they are also ill. Jacki tells of the back pain linked to her kidneys, the mornings when she urinates blood, and the lung pain she suffers. Her blood tested positive for acetone and arsenic. She has stopped selling her remaining cattle to her neighbors because, she says, "I won’t sell them because I don’t know if they’re OK."
In addition to the risks to animals that end up in the food chain of many Americans, The Nation article goes on to report about the risks to produce and beverages. Our food and agriculture regulators should be taking these reports very seriously and conducting scientific investigation and taking regulatory action to protect our food chain. And of course victims like the Schilkes should have their health and safety protected. More science is needed, but we have enough information now to know we should be taking precautions and instituting much stronger regulations at the state and federal level to protect clean air, clean water, health and communities from the risks of oil and gas production.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.
Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.
Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.
At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.
By Sabrina Kessler
Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.
By Alex Robinson
Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.
The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.
Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.