Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Asthma data down from .gov, in light of fracking

“This was all done in the backroom—and it was written by the oil and gas industry,” Shields said, pointing to fine print such as the confidentiality strictures for doctors who treat any patient that might be exposed to drilling fluids. “Where the hell does physician confidentiality come from? There isn’t a legislator up there that would ever have thought of that. But a good corporate lawyer will figure that out because they don’t want that to affect them in lawsuits. They know we will be coming because they know we will have spills and accidents and people are going to get hurt. They don’t want to give them a leg up.”   

The law also prevents heath professionals from discussing medical impacts. On page 99, it requires oil and gas companies to tell medical professionals what chemicals are used in drilling fluids—but only after they sign “a statement of need and a confidentiality agreement.” However those details—the chemicals in drilling fluid and medical significance—it states a page later, are secret and “shall not be a public record.” 
“I know exactly why that is in there,” said Shields. “That makes it extremely difficult to bring a civil suit if the information is locked away behind confidentiality agreements. A physician can’t release information during discovery. They can’t even tell another patient that they are dealing with the same thing. They can’t go to a public health official and disclose it—this lady has benzene in her blood, or methyl-whatever. He can’t do it.”  

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