Silica, Fracking, Litigation Marketing and the Long Term

So, what will fracking create for the litigation industry? Tea leaf readers may be interested in a Forbes.com article reporting on NIOSH finding excessive silica exposure levels at fracking sites. That article can be paired up with a plaintiff’s lawyer web site marketing potential silica claiming, and a different Forbes.com article on a M’aster limited partnership" providing lots of sand for fracking. According to the latter article, the partnership agreement requires annual payout of 90% of profit. Therefore, it may well be that not much will be left behind to pay future claimants, unless the limited partnership is purchasing lots of long-tail coverage for future disease, which (instinctively) seems highly unlikely. So, one might wonder and think about what happens 10-40 years down the line if the exposures continue and harms follow.

As to exposures, the Forbes.com article states as follows:

"NIOSH collected 116 full shift air samples at 11 fracking sites in five states – Arkansas, Colorado, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Texas – to determine the levels of worker exposure to silica at various jobs at various work sites.

Of the samples collected, 47 percent showed silica exposures greater than the calculated OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL), while 79 percent showed silica exposures greater than the NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit (REL).

Some 31 percent of all samples showed silica exposures 10 or more times the REL, with one sample more than 100 times the REL.

Potential worker exposure to silica is nothing new. A 2004 report from the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) entitled “Silica Liability” noted that workers in many occupations and industries are potentially exposed. NIOSH puts the number at in excess of 1.7 million U.S. workers."

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About Kirk

Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”

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