Leaked Document Shows Insurance Companies Concerned About Fracking Effects

A leaked underwriting document from a major insurance company has helped strengthen the health debate over fracking – suggesting that exposure to gases and chemicals used during drilling process is hazardous to one’s health.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a high-pressure drilling process employed by natural gas and energy companies that injects water, sand and chemicals into rock formations thousands of feet below the surface. While it is still too early to determine if there are long-term effects, it has widely been believed that chemicals used in the fracking process could cause health problems.

Given the oil and gas boom in shale areas across the country – notably in Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Dakota- the use of fracking has grown exponentially in the last few years. Fracking supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in the energy industry and brings billions of dollars into the economy. In fact, in Northern Texas it employs more than 110,000 people. This also means that the numbers of workers and residents being exposed to these chemicals is substantial.

A document posted on Facebook by Nationwide Insurance said, “After months of research and discussion, we have determined that the exposures presented by hydraulic fracturing are too great to ignore.”

And many insurance companies will not be paying for injuries caused by chemical exposure or from contaminated groundwater. For most drillers, insurance coverage for workplace injuries is not an issue, but it definitely comes into play for residents living near the shale areas. However, those injured may be able to pursue compensation through other avenues. For those living near the oil fields and fracking areas in Texas with related health concerns, speak with an experienced oil and gas injury attorney near you.

Source: WFAA.com, “Insurance memo on fracking rankles drilling industry,” 7/13/12.