Quantcast
Fracking

Pinkwashing: Fracking Company Teams Up With Susan G. Komen to 'End Breast Cancer Forever'

TAKE ACTION: Tell Susan G. Komen Don’t Frack With Our Health

What do you get when you cross a breast cancer charity with a frack job?

The answer is the image below, which, as I am writing, is going epidemically viral.

It’s hard to stop staring in utter baffled amazement. Is it some kind of … phallic cyborg?

The opening scene of a yet another sequel to Tremors? (Kevin Bacon! Nevada! Subterranean, worm-like, cross-dressing graboid!)

A sex toy from hell?

In fact, it’s all these things and more. Susan G. Komen, the largest breast cancer organization in America with more than 100,000 volunteers and partnerships in more than 50 countries, has teamed up with Baker Hughes, one of the world’s largest oilfield service companies with employees in more than 80 countries. Susan G. Komen hands out pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness, and Baker Hughes fracks. So, there you have it: a pink, fracking, drill head.

That’s Susan G. Komen pink, by the way. It’s special. Like John Deere green. And that signature color has been painted by hand on a thousand drill bits, which will soon be shipped by Baker Hughes to well pads all over the world, thus facilitating a thousand fossil fuel extraction projects just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Which is this month. (But please don’t confuse Baker Hughes pink drill bits with Chesapeake Energy’s “even-rigs-can-rally-for-a-cure” pink drill rigs. That was so 2012).

I am not making this up. Read more about the Komen/Baker Hughes frack-for-the-cure effort here. Watch a little promotional video about it here.  And then share the contents of your heart with Susan G. Komen headquarters: right over here.

As the story explains, when the pink drill bits are shipped in their boxes (and, yes, the boxes are pink, too), they come packed with information about “breast health facts, breast cancer risk factors and screening tips.”

And exactly whose breast cancer awareness quotient will be bolstered out there on the well pad? Inside the trailers and the trucks? Down on the drilling floor? Up on the derrick?

“The hope is that the roughneck who cracks open that container learns a little more about the disease that afflicts 200,000 women per year.”

Here’s what I’m wagering that roughneck does not learn from the literature shipped with his drill bit this October: I’m betting he does not read about the recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that found dangerous levels of benzene in the urine of workers in the unconventional (aka fracking) oil and gas industry. Benzene is a proven human carcinogen.

According to Bernard Goldstein, MD, toxicologist and former dean at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, “These workers are at higher risk for leukemia. The longer, the more frequently they do this, the more likely they are to get leukemia particularly if the levels are high.”

Read page 1

In addition to leukemia, benzene is also a suspected cause of, well, breast cancer.

Benzene exposure is known to induce breast cancer in laboratory animals and is modestly associated with breast cancer among women. But the best evidence we have for the benzene-breast cancer link comes from studies of young male workers exposed on the job. Male breast cancer is clearly linked to occupational exposure to benzene.

So, maybe those pamphlets really will come in handy in the man camps.

The carcinogenic dangers of fracking begin at the job site and extend far beyond. They include silica dust (a lung carcinogen); volatile organic air pollutants (linked to lymphoma); radioactive wastes, such as radon and radium (lung and breast cancers again); and drinking water contaminants, such as arsenic and brominated byproducts (both bladder carcinogens). Indeed, cancer hazards are present at every stage of the drilling, fracking, processing, and distribution process.

Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Public Health found higher excess cancer risks in people living within a half-mile of drilling and fracking operations than people living further away.

But I’ll guess that particular study is not packed in the box with the drill bit and the cancer screening tips.

So, here’s a message from me to America’s biggest breast cancer charity:

Susan G. Komen, it’s time to stop taking money from the frackers and come home. Your roots—as well as my own—are in central Illinois. (I grew up near Peoria. And so did the woman named Susan, in whose memory the organization was created. And so did her sister Nancy who founded it).

While your pink drill bits are multiplying on social media, here’s an image from Illinois that’s also enjoying a bit of traction. Take a look: more than 100 people pack a county board meeting last night in objection to plans to drill for oil in McLean County. The signs they hold: “Not one permit.”

More than 100 people pack a Bloomington, Illinois county board meeting last night in objection to plans to drill for oil in McLean County. The signs they hold read: “Not one permit.”

Here is the vision statement that your $100,000 donor, Baker Hughes, distributes to the world:

“We are looking forward to the next 100 years of working side by side with our customers to continue expanding the limits of oil, gas and alternative energy drilling, completion and production ...”

Meanwhile, back in your home and mine, folks are hunkered down in the fight of their lives against fracking and are messaging under the banners #NoDrilling and #ClimateChange.

Those are the hashtags of awareness—enough for this month and all the rest to follow.

All together, it’s the beginning of the cure we’ve been racing after.

Sandra Steingraber, PhD is a biologist, a cancer survivor, and co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York. She is author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment, also an award-winning film.

YOU MIGHT ALSO L IKE:

Tell Starbucks to Serve Only Organic Milk From Cows Not Fed GMOs

Poisoned Fracking Playgrounds a Threat to Texas Kids

Who Killed the Vote on Fracking and Squashed Democracy?

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Animation showing percent of acres burning worldwide. NASA / GSFC / SVS

New NASA Study Solves Climate Mystery, Confirms Methane Spike Tied to Oil and Gas

By Sharon Kelly

Over the past few years, natural gas has become the primary fuel that America uses to generate electricity, displacing the long-time king of fossil fuels, coal. In 2019, more than a third of America's electrical supply will come from natural gas, with coal falling to a second-ranked 28 percent, the Energy Information Administration predicted this month, marking the growing ascendency of gas in the American power market.

Keep reading... Show less
Pexels

Forest Gardening With Space for Wild Elephants

By Michael B. Commons

In my collaboration with Terra Genesis International, I have been given space and support to investigate what we may call "Regenerative Pathways," looking at real life examples of functional farming systems that we can identify as being on the "Regenerative Agriculture Pathway."

While these farms/farming systems might be called "Regenerative Farms," we see regeneration more as a long term process and continuum that we can evaluate through indicators such as soil health, water retention, biodiversity, community health and more.

Keep reading... Show less
Slava Bowman / Unsplash

How Can We Help Put a Human Face on Climate Change?

By John R. Platt

Communicating the truths about climate change isn't always easy. Sometimes the effects of climate change seem to hover in the future, or are occurring most visibly in other parts of the world. Other times they're subtle—at least for now. And of course, there are some people who just don't want to hear anything about it.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Aerial view of Yaguas River and the Cachimbo tributary. Alvaro del Campo, Field Museum

Peru's Newest National Park Safeguards 2 Million Acres of Amazon Rainforest

The Peruvian government announced it will establish a new and enormous national park in the Amazon.

Yaguas National Park, located in the northern region of Loreto, consists of 2,147,166 acres of rainforest, a vast river system and is home to more than 3,000 species of plants, 500 species of birds and 160 species of mammals, including giant otters, woolly monkeys, Amazonian river dolphins and manatees. The park also features 550 fish species—one of the richest fish faunas in the world.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Molteno Dam Reservoir in Cape Town. Wikimedia Commons

Will Cape Town Become the First Major City to Run Out of Water?

Cape Town is on track to become the first major city in the world to run out of water.

The world-renowned tourist destination—and the second-most populous urban area in South Africa after Johannesburg—could approach "Day Zero," when most taps run dry, by April 21, Mayor Patricia de Lille said Tuesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
The mountains of Haiti. PO2 Daniel Barker / DVIDS

Haiti’s Most Popular Ecotourism Destinations

The tropical Caribbean island of Haiti is a paradise with a rich, fascinating history, natural wonders and diverse cultural offerings. It has also been named by some as the next big thing in regional tourism.

But ecotourism in particular could become important for Haiti, with its rich land and sea biodiversity. Globally, the business of ecotourism generates more than $600 billion a year and is connected to hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
iStock

Nearly All Coastal Governors Denounce Plan to Expand Offshore Oil Drilling

Politicians from coastal states around the country continue to call for their states to be exempt from the Trump administration's proposed expansion of offshore drilling following its politically-tinged decision last week to remove Florida from the plan.

The Interior Department said last week that Secretary Ryan Zinke had spoken with seven coastal governors opposed to drilling, including the governors of North and South Carolina, Rhode Island, Delaware and Washington. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's office told press Zinke would consider removing the state from the plan following their call, while California Gov. Jerry Brown's office reports that Zinke promised to travel to the state to further discuss the offshore leases.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Rob Hainer / IStock

In Alabama, a Cleanup Unearths Toxins—and Scandal

By Matt Smith

Lot by lot, backhoes and dump trucks are scraping and hauling away yards on the north side of Birmingham to remove soil laced with heavy metals and other industrial wastes—the legacy of this city's years as a steelmaking power.

Federal prosecutors say that effort also uncovered something else: a scheme to save polluters millions by putting the neighborhood's representative in Montgomery on their payroll.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!