FLARING: Where ‘Cancer is Rife’

Definition of ‘Rife’ – In widespread existence, practice, or use; increasingly prevalent.

An October 1, 2022 BBC story by Jess Kelly, Owen Pinnell & Esme Stallard paints the dark reality facing children and their parents around the oilfields in Iraq. That reality is more poignantly displayed in a video that shows the towering, black smoke flares, along with the faces of sick children.

Using satellite data we found that the largest of Basra’s oil fields, Rumaila, flares more gas than any other site in the world. The Iraqi government owns this field, and BP is the lead contractor. On the field is a town called North Rumaila – which locals call “the cemetery”. Teenagers coined the phrase after they observed high levels of leukaemia amongst their friends, which they suspect is from the flaring. Prof Shukri Al Hassan, a local environmental scientist, told us that cancer here is so rife it is “like the flu”.

BP in oil field where ‘cancer is rife’ | BBC | October 1, 2022

While they may spell it “leukaemia” it strikes a hauntingly familiar chord with the “leukemia” recently revealed in a Yale study to be 2 to 3 times more likely in children living within 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) of Pennsylvania gas drilling sites. In fact, there’s a meeting tonight (October 5th) at 5:30 pm in Canonsburg, PA’s Town Park, where parents who lost children, reporters and the general public, will gather for a two hour meeting to learn more about a health study being done on the Ewing Sarcoma cluster that ended up killing teenagers in the Canon-McMillan school district, which is located in one of Pennsylvania’s most drilled and heavily fracked counties: Washington County, Pennsylvania, which the local Chamber of Commerce loves to call “The Energy Capital of the East.”

Slideshow of flaring in Washington County, PA:

That school and town are downwind from the earliest Marcellus Shale gas production, back when tall ‘candlestick’ flares were more commonly used, leading one local researcher to strongly believe the flares and Ewing Sarcomas are linked. Industry may be able to say “prove it” but who can really argue with his logic using fundamental facts about associated things like radioactivity from the shale, that isn’t destroyed by flaring. Add the known carcinogen benzene to the mix, one of the primary members in the BTEX associated with oil and gas production. Then there are the frac chemicals, with many known to be endocrine disruptors. The black smoke from these flares contains particulate matter, known to lodge in the lungs, in addition to unburned elements from the shale gas stream.

VIDEO: Holiday gas well flaring turns into a 911 call to the fire department!
Rare video footage of gas well flaring on Labor Day 2009 in Hopewell Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania near Buffalo.
The BBC story on flared oil fields in Iraq included these additional details:

“Many children in nearby villages have not survived their cancer diagnoses. Fatima Falah Najem lived 25 miles (40km) down the road from Ali in Zubair oil field, with her parents and six siblings. Eni – a major Italian oil company – is the lead contractor at Zubair. Fatima was diagnosed with a type of blood and bone cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at 11 years old. Exposure to benzene – found in flared gases – can increase the risk of people developing this condition. Fatima passed away last November at 13 years old.”

BP in oil field where ‘cancer is rife’ | BBC | October 1, 2022

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