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Fracking Health Risks: Latino Children in Danger?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on July 17, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A new lawsuit claims that California's failure to regulate the fracking operations in the state has disproportionately endangered the health of Latino children. Rodrigo Romo has sued Governor Jerry Brown and California's Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources, seeking to invalidate recent fracking legislation and bar current fracking operations.

Romo's claims center on the proximity of fracking wells to schools -- specifically the school his daughters attend, Sequoia Elementary School, which sits just half a mile from three wells.

What the Frack?

Romo's lawsuit alleges some sobering facts. As reported by Courthouse News:

The Kern County resident claims that 5.4 million Californians live within a mile of an active oil or gas well, and that a disparate amount of such schools have with large Latino enrollments. He says one of his daughters began to suffer severe asthma and epileptic attacks since fracking began 1,200 feet from her elementary school.

The suit also claims that teachers often keep schoolchildren inside, banning outdoor recess for weeks because of "bad smells assumed to be associated with the well stimulations." Eighty-six percent of Sequoia's enrollment is Latino.

That's Fracked Up.

Gov. Brown signed new fracking regulations into law two years ago, but Romo and others contend the provisions of SB-4 don't go far enough. While the regulations focus on groundwater protections, Romo claims his daughter has suffered from asthma attacks and epileptic seizures since the fracking well opened near her school.

An independent study into the health risks of fracking called for additional controls on chemicals and even a ban until scientists can gather more definitive data on fracking's impact on the environment and human health. And a Texas family recently won a $3 million fracking pollution lawsuit against a drilling company, which could provide some precedent for Romo's suit. In that case, a nearby well caused the family years of sickness, killed livestock and pets, and eventually forced them off of their 40-acre ranch.

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