Silica Dust Exposure Topic A at ShaleSafe Conference in Wheeling

The West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association hosted their inaugural ShaleSafe Conference and Expo at Oglebay Park in Wheeling earlier this week (Monday through Wednesday). What makes the conference interesting and unusual is that the entire event was focused on the topic of safety in shale plays–particularly the Marcellus and Utica. If you hang around with oil and gas people for any length of time, the topic of safety comes up. Contrary to the picture anti-drillers try to paint, the oil and gas industry is laser focused on worker and public safety. And that focus showed at the conference.

The highlight of the conference–the main focus–was a panel on silica (sand) exposure, which was held yesterday (Wednesday). That panel featured Michael Breitenstein from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Dr. Michael McCawley, chairman of the Department of Occupational & Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University. McCawley, you may remember, has been beating the drum for some time that setbacks for drilling in WV are not enough and that air pollution coming from drilling operations is a serious issue (see WVU Prof Keeps Up Pressure on Improved Air Quality at Drill Sites). Silica dust is a serious issue, and both speakers were there to put the fear of God into the audience about it…

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