News

Environmentalist group says health registry needed

Written by The Associated Press | Aug 18, 2014 10:30 AM
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Photo by Scott Goldsmith / The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project

(Harrisburg) -- An environmentalist group says the Corbett administration is moving in the right direction in handling health complaints involving natural-gas drilling, but that more needs to be done.

John Norbeck of PennFuture said the changes announced Monday will improve the department's internal processes. But he says a statewide registry is needed to track environmental health threats and identify trends early on.

Health Secretary Michael Wolf says his department has implemented a written-letter response policy to better document correspondence between the department and people who file complaints.

Other changes include providing information to doctors about how to file environmental health complaints and making the department's website easier to use.

Spokeswoman Holli Senior says the department supports the concept of a registry and is exploring options that include a public-private partnership.

Two retired employees of the state Department of Health told StateImpact Pennsylvania in June that they were silenced on health concerns regarding Marcellus Shale drilling.

An earlier story is below: 

The Corbett administration says it has enhanced the Pennsylvania Health Department's handling of complaints involving natural-gas drilling.

Health Secretary Michael Wolf says changes recommended by an internal working group include providing information to doctors about how to file environmental health complaints and improving the availability of health information on the department's website.

Wolf says the department also has instituted a written-letter response policy in an effort to document correspondence between the department and people who file complaints.

Two retired employees of the state Department of Health told StateImpact Pennsylvania in June that they were silenced on health concerns regarding Marcellus Shale drilling.

The lack of a reliable system for tracking complaints was also among concerns highlighted in an audit of the state Department of Environmental Protection released last month.

The review by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale also says environmental regulators failed to adequately monitor well safety over a four-year period ending in 2012.

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