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Job injury: EPA asked to reveal hazardous fracking chemicals

Entities across 21 U.S. states along with the District of Columbia have petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a policy change in which the types of hazardous chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing industry are disclosed. Fracking sites, such as those in North Dakota, expose their employees to toxic chemical hazards that can cause occupational injuries. Frequently, emergency workers are unable to provide prompt treatment because of their inability to identify the substance that caused the job injury.

The group, known as The Partnership for Policy Integrity, along with scientists, health professionals and first responders want to know the details of 41 chemicals that they believe are used in the hydraulic fracturing process without being declared. They say the manufacturers of the toxic substances regard the ingredients and formations of their products as confidential. Furthermore, initial procedures at fracking sites are often carried out by contractors who spend a limited time at the oil well before moving on to the next one, and they are not subject to similar chemical control measures as the permanent operators of the wells.

While the group is concerned about the transport of the hazardous chemicals on the county's roads and the risk to the public, employees of the oil and gas industry are incredibly vulnerable. A workplace accident that involves any of these mysterious toxic substances can cause injuries or illnesses with severe consequences while victims will be aware that emergency workers will not know how to treat them or save their lives. Counsel for the group expressed concern over the fact that chemicals identified as health hazards by the EPA are allowed to be used without public knowledge of the risks involved.

Any worker in the hydraulic fracturing industry in North Dakota who suffers a job injury may be entitled to the benefits provided by the workers' compensation insurance program for the state, and victims can seek the assistance of experienced legal counsel. Any medical expenses will be covered as long as the injury is immediately reported to the employer, and medical bills and reports accompany the claim for benefits. If the condition caused temporary disability, a portion of lost wages might be included in the benefits.

Source: weirtondailytimes.com, "First responders ask for transparency for fracking chemicals", Janell Hunter, Dec. 8, 2017

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