Minister blocks opportunity for communities to hear about the health risks from “fracking.”
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, involves the injection of large volumes of highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals to liberate gas from underground shale. Overseas this technology has been plagued by environmental and health concerns, resulting in moratoria in several jurisdictions.
Fracking is now proceeding in the Perth Artesian Basin.
“Affected communities have a right to information about the potential health effects of this technology. For the minister to obstruct this process undermines democracy and suggests there is something to hide.” Dr Kingsley Faulkner, Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) said.
“There are clearly inherent risks to human health from exposure to toxic and untested chemicals that may be spilt at the surface or leak into subsurface water”
“The decision to exclude environmental and health assessment and input from this process ignores real risks and is at odds with overseas experience”
DEA had been invited to present health information at the country meetings organised by the National party prior to Minister Moore’s intervention.
“The Dept. of Petroleum and Mines would not appear qualified to dismiss health concerns out of hand, particularly when the US EPA have decided to conduct a comprehensive study into the potential adverse effects of fracking on water quality and public health” said DEA WA representative Dr George Crisp, who had been scheduled to speak at the community meetings.
“We are bitterly disappointed by the minister’s decision to prevent Doctors from speaking at community meetings on health matters”
Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is a voluntary organisation of medical doctors working to prevent ill health caused by environmental damage.
Potentially serious health risks to the community may result from; industrial scale water consumption, water contamination; air pollution, particularly by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and methane; seismic effects, and the production and management of large quantities of toxic liquid waste, as well as long-term and cumulative impacts on freshwater aquifers.
DEA considers the current level of assessment, monitoring and regulation of unconventional gas exploration and mining to be inadequate. DEA supports a precautionary approach in this setting and recommends a moratorium on unconventional gas extraction until safety has been established by thorough, transparent and impartial analysis.
Prof Kingsley Faulkner (Chair, DEA National Committee) 0419 936 677
Dr George Crisp (DEA WA Committee) 0422 057 351