Fracking Linked to Mystery Disease in New York?

An article by Paul Mrozek in The Daily News of Livingston County in New York gives some details on a story about students at Le Roy Central School who have begun exhibiting symptoms of a mystery disease which some feel is related to fracking in the area.  Click on the "Read more" link to watch a CNN report on the story and read some excerpts from The Daily News article.

Le Roy Central School officials have posted additional information on the district’s website about students with tic symptoms, environmental testing and natural gas wells at the school.
The data was placed on the site in response to citizens’ questions and comments at Saturday’s community meeting at Le Roy Junior/Senior High School.
It is a “summary of the ongoing investigation,” according to a district announcement.
Most of the newly-uploaded documents confirm or re-confirm what citizens heard at Saturday’s meeting, including the lack of an environmental link or an infection among the 15 students who exhibit symptoms similar to Tourette’s Syndrome.
William Albert of the law firm Harris Beach of Rochester, spokesman for the school district, said Monday that three more girls have exhibited similar Tourette-like behaviors and are being evaluated by physicians. That could bring the total of ill teenagers to 18.
Officials who ran Saturday’s meeting fielded numerous queries about the gas wells and dead grass and trees around one of them.
According to the district’s fact sheet, there are six wells on Le Roy Central School District’s 30-acre site. The first two were drilled in 1980 and 1981.
In 1991 another pair of wells was drilled. The most recent ones were drilled in August 2008.
The die-off of plants and trees occurred when salt water was spilled on the ground. 
Le Roy Central officials and its consultants said at Saturday’s community forum that grass and trees died near one well because of brine that spilled on the ground. Monday’s documents stated that water in Medina Sandstone contains salt and some of that liquid is drawn to the surface during gas extraction.

The district also reported that four of the wells were done by hydraulically fracturing underground deposits of Medina Sandstone in order to reach pockets of gas. However the technique used at the school was low-volume hydrofracking, not the controversial high-volume hydrofracking that’s become a huge environmental issue in New York.
Four of the Le Roy wells were hydraulically fractured by vertical drilling and using 20,000 to 30,000 gallons of water.
Part of a high-volume fracking well is drilled horizontally; it uses 1 million or more gallons of chemically-treated water for each one. There is a moratorium in New York on use of the high-volume technique.
The students became ill over a period of seven months starting in May 2011, with some showing recurrences or worsening in that time period.Neurologists treating the majority of the students have diagnosed them with mass psychogenic illness, which was formerly called mass hysteria. It means that students under emotional stress will exhibit unusual behavior, in this case uncontrollable movements and verbal outbursts, without a physical cause for the symptoms.

Doctors treating the Le Roy students have said they will recover.

State DOH will continue to work with the National Institutes of Health to provide the families with medical care, most of whom are being treated by private physicians and Dent Neurologic Institute.
District Superintendent Kim Cox also received an offer Monday to work cooperatively on environmental testing at the school. The proposal came by letter from Bob Bowcock, an investigator who works with environmental activist Erin Brockovich.
Bowcock was escorted off school property on Jan. 28, when he attempted to take water or soil samples.
Some of the parents of the patients remain convinced there is an environmental link between the school and their stricken children. The school district has hired Leader Professional Services of Rochester to conduct another round of air-quality tests at the school.
The district won’t make a decision on whether to do any soil and buiding materials’ tests until it gets the air-quality results from Leader.

Read the entire article here.

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