Department of Health employees in Pennsylvania have been issued a gag order pertaining to health concerns related to fracking in their state. Ignoring the well-being of its citizens, Pennsylvania has instead sided with fossil fuel companies and turned a deaf ear to those affected by fracking.
Tammi Struck, a retired state employee, says employees were not allowed to discuss topics related to fracking:
“There was a list of buzzwords we had gotten. There were some obvious ones like fracking, gas, soil contamination. There were probably 15 to 20 words and short phrases that were on this list. If anybody from the public called in and that was part of the conversation, we were not allowed to talk to them.”
Stuck said the callers’ info was passed on to supervisors but it was unclear if anyone was ever called back. Doctors and even Pennsylvania’s own Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission have been asking for more information regarding the health concerns of fracking chemicals for years but nothing has yet been done about it.
And the despicable actions of the corrupt Pennsylvania government go beyond just silencing their employees. Act 13, passed earlier this year, forces doctors to remain silent regarding what chemicals their patients might have been exposed to. Meant to protect the fracker’s trade secrets, or “Secret Information”, physicians can only reveal information regarding these chemicals in a medical emergency or after submitting a request that explains why the information is required. Even if the request is accepted, doctors must make sure that the patient does not divulge the information further, even to friends and family that may also be at risk:
- Secret Information may be obtained by a health professional only for diagnosis and treatment of an individual.
- Secret Information may not be obtained for preventive medical purposes, even to protect a patient’s family or community members, who may be at risk.
- Secret Information may not be obtained for medical research or other scientific study.
- It is unclear what Secret Information, if any, health professionals may disclose to others and under what terms it may be disclosed. The regulations that are supposed to define the terms of required confidentiality agreement have not yet been proposed.
- Health professionals who are authorized to disclose Secret Information during the course of diagnosis or treatment must take affirmative steps to insure that the recipients maintain the confidentiality of the information.
Such flagrant disregard for the health of American citizens hasn’t been shown since the Steel and Railroad industries chewed through immigrant laborers in the early 1900s. At least then the corporations only mutilated their own employees. Now the fracking industry is willfully destroying American lives, and the Pennsylvania government seems to be supporting them. And surprise! Republicans are currently in control of the Pennsylvania legislature. Who could have guessed?