Shale Development Rising as Safe Haven for Big Oil What are the Implications for Health and Safety?

According to an article from BLOOMBERG carried yesterday in Crain’s Cleveland Business , shale development is accelerating.  It is being seen by Big Oil as a safe haven during volatile world market oil prices. 

Much of this is being driven by falling shale oil production costs.  For example, huge increases in the length of laterals in unconventional wells has added to increased productivity and hence, lower costs. 

We need to consider what this means for the health and safety.  Of course, one worrying trend is the furious pace of new petroleum pipeline construction with its accompanying health and safety risks.

Another concern is the continued use of “bomb trains,” trains of tanker cars carrying such products as the highly volatile Bakken oil.  These trains are being routed through many highly populated areas.  Most of the cars are single-hulled, and even the double-hulled cars have been deemed unsafe.

Apart from the very real explosion risk, these oil trains are off-gassing VOCs along their routes, exposing communities to carcinogens and other toxins.

No, shale development is not winding down.  It is changing its focus in some areas, but it is still rising and threatening the health and safety of communities across the country.