Coal seam gas fails on human health 2/4/2013

Doctors’ organisation agrees CSG assessment and monitoring is badly flawed and does not protect human health

Doctors agree with arguments aired in last night’s ABC Four Corners program “Gas Leak”, that assessment and monitoring processes for CSG developments by the states are flawed. This has implications for human health as well as the environment, according to Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA).

DEA has consistently expressed concerns that the current level of assessment, monitoring and regulation of CSG activities in Australia is inadequate to protect the health of current and future generations.

According to spokesperson Dr Helen Redmond, “There are significant data gaps that limit the ability to assess risks to public health from this industry.

“Despite governments allowing rapid development of the industry, there is a lack of information on chemicals used and wastes produced, lack of information on cumulative effects, and lack of comprehensive environmental monitoring and health impact assessment”.

While the ABC program highlighted concerns about leaking methane in the QGC gas fields in Tara, Queensland, little mention was made of the health concerns of residents living there, which are the subject of a recently released QLD health department report.

“It is concerning that despite CSG activity there since 2006 and health complaints dating from 2008, there was no investigation until late 2012,” Dr Redmond said.

“Then the investigation was unable to determine whether health effects reported by the community were linked to exposure to CSG activities, largely because the appropriate independent baseline and ongoing monitoring programs had not been established.”

Only now has the Queensland Health Department recommended a strategic ambient air monitoring program be established to monitor overall CSG emissions and the exposure of local communities to those emissions.

“This is a cautionary lesson for other areas in line for CSG development also,” Dr Redmond said.

“Transparent independent assessment, including health impact assessment, and baseline monitoring, needs to be in place before any CSG activity commences. Otherwise all the rhetoric of strict approval conditions is just rhetoric.”

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is a voluntary national organisation of medical doctors working to protect health through care of the environment.

Media contacts:

Dr Helen Redmond. M: 0414 229089
Dr Melissa Haswell. M: 0415 568 536

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