The Latest Anti-Drilling Scare Tactic: Radon in Shale Gas

There’s no polite way to say this, so I won’t bother: The nutters are coming out of the woodwork. Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS), NYH2O and 50 “other signatories” have sent a letter to Speaker Quinn of the New York City Council asking the speaker to convene hearings on the issue of radon in natural gas. They are claiming (and this is the nutty part) that Marcellus Shale gas contains radon and that Marcellus gas gets to market so fast the radon doesn’t have time to break down and dissipate. That is, it’s a health risk for New York City residents who use natural gas.

The solution, according to DCS and the others? Don’t use natural gas—at least not the cheap, abundant natural gas that comes from the Marcellus Shale.

Here’s their press release, if you can understand it:

Damascus Citizens for Sustainability(DCS) and NYH2O along with over 50 signatories have sent a letter to Speaker Quinn of the New York City Council asking for her assistance in holding joint hearings of the Committee on Environmental Protection and the Committee on Health as soon as possible on an environmental issue with very serious potential public health implications – the potential for exposing every New York household that uses natural gas to dangerous levels of radioactive radon.

From the letter,"The consequences of introducing Marcellus shale gas into domestic natural gas markets in New York City could create a public health emergency, the potential for which neither the current City Administration nor Con Ed is taking seriously. It is the absence of such a systematic evaluation of whether Marcellus shale gas will be distributed in New York City and the lack of any formal assessment of the public health risks of doing so that has led us to turn to the Council for leadership and support on this issue." READ THE COMPLETE LETTER:

Gas from Marcellus wells has more radioactivity in it than any other area and will arrive quickly so there is little time for decay of the radioactivity to happen in transit. Jeff Zimmerman, DCS and NYH2O attorney said, "Frankly, it’s astounding to me that the government agencies that are charged with protecting the health and welfare of the public have not woken up to the fact that the same natural gas that is supposed to be less polluting when burned is actually going to cause more lung cancer in epidemic quantities. Radon is the 500 pound gorilla sitting in the corner that everyone wants to ignore but that isn’t going away. Our letter to the City Council is a wakeup call for action. We need to take this very seriously starting right now before this highly radioactive gas shows up in every gas stove in the metro area."

Buck Moorehead, VP of NYH2O reminded us that we must, ""Add radon to the plethora of significant health risks that comprise the trojan horse that is shale gas extraction."

The groups that have signed the letter are businesses, environmental, civic and residential and represent thousands of New Yorkers. More endorsements for holding hearings on this important issue are still coming in. "We cannot ignore the health consequences of high radon levels coming into peoples’ homes. A hot meal is not supposed to mean radioactive!", said B. Arrindell, Director of Damascus Citizens. She continued, "Children are most susceptible to radon damage – we have to look into this issue and we are looking to Speaker Quinn for leadership."

Workers in kitchens, plumbers and even subway workers may be exposed to high levels of radon or decay products (lead and polonium) that are also dangerous.

What are the actual hazards? Only a hearing will bring out the details and impacts, and we are sure, further questions.

…NYH2O and Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS) will continue to collect signatures via email [email protected]

See all endorsements HERE:

In their fifth year, environmental advocacy groups, NYH2O and DCS both began in response to the threat of shale gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin and are dedicated to protecting clean water, air and land as basic human rights and the drinking water we all need.*

*Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (Jun 7, 2012) – Radon NYC- Hearings Wanted on How Radioactive Marcellus Shale Gas Could be Coming to Every NYC Kitchen

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