A doctor in Tompkins County Pennsylvania addresses a different kind of public safety issue.
Drill crews present public problems, Pa. doctor tells Tompkins committee
Workers bring substance abuse, conflict, crime, says man who worked in western gas regions
By Stacey Shackford
Theodore Them, the chief of occupational and environmental health for Guthrie Health in Sayre, told members of the Tompkins County Legislature’s public safety committee on Monday that an influx of rig workers would likely bring with it a rise in drug and alcohol abuse, robbery, burglary, shootings, stabbings and poaching.
“They work two weeks straight, 12 hours per day, then have two weeks off. They are going to be bored and raising Cain,” Them said. “A lot of them are hardened, tough workers who are used to a hard life. Most are good people, but there will be enough bad apples in this crowd to make it a bad situation.”
Doctor Them is not the first to mention these problems.
Sexual Predators give new meaning for “Get Behind the Barnett Shale”
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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The University of Colorado School of Public Health did a paper on gas drilling in 2008 and they noted the same problems when drill crews came to town. Crime rates go up and abuses of all kinds. Google it and have a read.
Imagine if someone made the charges Dr. Them makes against rig workers about an ethnic or religious group instead: "Theodore Them, the chief of occupational and environmental health for Guthrie Health in Sayre, told members of the Tompkins County Legislature's public safety committee on Monday that an influx of _________ would likely bring with it a rise in drug and alcohol abuse, robbery, burglary, shootings, stabbings and poaching." Try inserting "immigrants", "blacks", "Muslims", "gypsies" or whatever. Doesn't sound acceptable, does it? But somehow it's OK to show such prejudice against "rig workers". Oh, but Dr. Them didn't say that every rig worker was bad. "Most ____________ are good people, but there will be enough bad apples in this crowd to make it a bad situation." Again, try inserting "immigrants", "blacks", "Muslims" or whatever. Doesn't sound acceptable either, does it? Sounds a bit prejudicial to me.
I believe we are simply stating facts here. That should be allowed, shouldn't it? Them's remarks are not aimed at any ethnic group. They are directed at an industry. The public has a right to know as much information as possible so that they can protect themselves. When I worked in the field of church music and had groups of children in my choirs, I had to take special courses on sexual harrassment and sexual abuse, not because I was suspected of inappropriate behavior, but because I simply had to be informed and trained for my own protection and the protection of others. I had male colleagues that told me they were looked at strangely sometimes when people thought they might be sexual predators. They were not, but they felt they were in a bad position just because they were men . It's not easy to have that happen, but in order to be safe, sometimes we all have to put up with such things. It is the same with gas drillers. They will have to accept that people might be suspicious of them. If drillers don't like it, it is unfortunate, but nothing can be done about that. If a person or industry has nothing to hide, there should not be a problem with reporters, observers, or researchers who look at them with a magnifying glass.
I'm taken back by your response. First I like how you say "we" are stating facts. Second the beloved Dr. Them has no data to back his story up besides "likely". I think that is called libel. I stand by my statement. If I insert any other work in place of "rig workers" and publush it, I would be in serious trouble.
To top it all off, Dr. Them makes no sense with his logic of workers "work for 2 weeks then have 2 weeks to get bored." Rig workers work a variety of shifts from two weeks on/two weeks off to 4 weeks on/ 2 weeks off and every combination in between. When it comes time for your time off, you don't stay where you work. You go HOME. Think about how many oilfield workers do you think live in the PA area. Almost NONE. They come from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Colorado, or even Canada. And when you are working 12 hour shift of LABOR(not sitting at desk waiting 5 o'clock happy hour), when it's time to get off you eat and go to sleep to do it all over again. Thank you for perpetuating a false streotype since "nothing can be done about that."
I say we headline an article "church choir leaders potenial sexual predators" not because it is true but just to inform.
Thank you for busting the jobs mantra that industry uses when they invade an area. I've pointed out many times that the jobs they claim to provide are for transient workers and not locals.
There are other studies that have shown the same results. I posted a link to one above and another comment mentions another. You can find article after article that shows industry does not do proper screening and they hire just about anyone.
Oil field workers have the hardest jobs in the world. I have nothing against them and some are my friends. There are also a whole lot of undesirables in that field. My heart bleeds for the guys who speak no English, get paid next to nothing and have the hardest of the hard jobs. They leave them standing on the roads in sub freezing weather to watch the frack pipes. I give them hot cocoa and sandwiches. Some of you guys are the biggest low-life jerks on the planet.
Ok here we go.
The writer is specfic to "rig workers." When you move a rig from Canada to Texas, you have Canadian workers. Why is this? Because a drilling rig is not cookie cutter like a Ford pickup they are all different. You have to have individuals that are knowledgable on that specfic rig or problems ensue. Service companies (not rig workers) typically DO NOT work shifts where workers are on/off for weeks. So they would work a normal 5-6 days a week during daylight hours or 2 shifts for 24 hr operation. So service workers tend to be local and rig workers tend to follow the same rig. Intially all workers are from out of area until training can be completed. I know you are under the impression that this work is done by uneducated workers who just don't know any better, but you are wrong and is the reason people just can't understand why they don't understand what they see if a bunch of uneducated oil field trash can. If you don't understand it has to REAL BAD. Kinda like when Columbus sailed off the edge of the earth. What i read was one article with no facts and then another article that cliams that "hospital bed numbers" didn't change but sexual assualts did. What sense does that make so no population increase just crime rate. I guess the locals just started on a crime spree. I know here in my "boom town" of Decatur the crime rate sure is ridiculous, i can't walk down the street with out being sexually assualted or car jacked by oil field worker. That's why i have to pack heat getting the mail. I don't buy your poor pitiful non-english speaking worker watching frac lines in sub zero temps. This isn't slavery. If a man is cold go get warm, too hot get a cold drink in the shade. Those men make enough money or they would not be there and I work with Hispanic workers on every job haven't found one yet that didn't speak english unless they didn't want to talk to me. Hence the reason i put in the time to speak spanish. Fixed that problem.
" My heart bleeds for the guys who speak no English, get paid next to nothing and have the hardest of the hard jobs. " Is this the reason the death toll went from 3 to 1?
Oil & Gas production does bring jobs to an area. Only "rig workers" are typically from other places. Service companies generally live in the area they work.
One article has no facts and the other is based on irrational logic. Hospital beds didn't increase but sexual crimes did. I guess the locals went on a crime spree. Where do you base your claim industry does not screen properly and will hire anyone? If that was the case then you have just solved unemployment.
I don't buy sob stories about oil field workers standing on side of road sub zero temps and not able to speak english. Like this industry is a sweat shop. Workers are paid fair or would not work. And any grown man can go to the bathroom or get a drink as he needs. I mean seriously.
And thanks some of us guys are real jerks. How would you know with no O&G experience. You don't know. Only how people react with someone always treating them like criminals.
P.S. Thanks for the censorship.
Aw, you're so misunderstood.
Big difference between being misunderstood and NOT understanding.
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.
There is a long history of boom towns having more crime and sexual predators.
You do ramble on.
Like I said i know it is crime central here in Decatur. Long history.
The smaller the understanding of the situation, the more pretentious the form of expression.–John Romano, M.D
i live in decatur and the crime is actually pretty bad for a small town. they bend over for big gas every chance they get.
lots of drugs and addiction in Decatur.
r u kidding me? decatur is the black hole of hell thanks to drillers. they've turned some beautiful country and a once neat town into one big pit like a truck stop on crack.
I agree north Texas is a shit hole and populated with inbred idoits that like to get bent over by gas drillers. I think we should wipe it off the map.
Tim Ruggiero says
You are correct, Decatur has dteriorated rapidly in the last 6 years I have lived here. I can see 4 drill rigs from my home. The roads are loaded with fast food trash, beer and soda cans, errant gloves, rags and junk that flys out of the beds of pickup trucks.
When a drill rig comes in, they bring in such a high class of employees witht hem that they can't even seem to find the porta potties, they just have at it wherever they happen to be standing. No Smoking signs everywhere, but so are cigarette butts. Even found an entire 24 case of empty beer bottles on the sid eof the road. Tanker truckers illegally dumping their loads in roadside ditches.
When these boobs who are operating on my property re-started their well for the 2nd or third time, the two workers who were going to be here for two whole days straight (that's two entire days!) decided to bring their wives, babies and small children out to the worksite with them. Maybe it was bring your child to work day and I missed it. Daddy has to wear a hard hat, protective eye gear, hearing protection and protective footwear while he operates the diesel generator and pump equipment 50 feet away from his camper trailer, but it's perfectly okay to bring your entire family and a baby out to the site.
Aa the old saying goes, you get what you pay for for.
I think everyone should post a list of gas driller's sexual assualts, drug and alcohol abuse, robbery, burglary, shootings, stabbings and poaching reports from the Barnett Shale here. So we can prove this story to the idoits
Recently visited a oil town where workers were crowded into Home Depot on their day off buying paint and fixtures to fix up their homes. Also, had to wait for a table because the workers were with their families having dinner. While shopping for clothes, the worker's wives were buying new clothes! Parking lots were filled with new trucks and businesses were busy! The workers make good money and spend it on their days off.
Sometimes you see what you want to see.
You are absolutely right that people often see only what they want to see. That applies to you as well. I think that most people commenting on this blog are willing to meet the oil field hands half-way. I haven't seen the effort from the other side to step into our shoes.
Tim Ruggiero says
In my universe, you get treated in a way that you treat me. I understand that you are "just trying to earn a living, put food on the table, support your family", etc. So are all of us. I understand that if your work brings you to my back yard, you have a job to do. That doesn't mean that you race your trucks up and down the road because I'm protesting your company being on my property at all. That doesn't mean leaving beer cans and fast food trash all over my property and along the road sides along the way. That doesn't mean you are entitled to disprespect my property, my family and our way of life.
In any group- police officers, lawyers, doctors, truck drivers, whoever, it only takes a few to act badly to then become the bad perception of the entire group. I get it. The majority of workmen I've seen around in my area and the ones I've had conversations with are for the most part, decent people. Just because the law says you get to dig a hole in my backyard doesn't entitle you to act like a jerk.
If you want to be treated with respect, start with being respectful. My fight-our fight really isn't with the work crews, it's with their employers-the ones wearing suits often found on golf courses, boardrooms and on TV telling everyone how great gas well drilling is.