Unconventional gas development (UGD) is the extraction of natural gas which is difficult to access conventionally, from coal seams, shale or other rock formations, using techniques such as directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Hydraulic fracturing involves the pressurised injection of fluids, sand and chemical additives into rock to open up fractures, allowing gas to flow out.
The rapid expansion of this industry with little baseline research means there are many unknowns about the impacts of these processes.
More information is needed on the use and mobilisation of potentially hazardous chemicals by this industry for adequate health risk assessments. A major problem is the lack of transparency around the chemicals used, the majority of which have not been adequately assessed for safety.
DEA supports a moratorium on UGD until the health and environmental consequences are adequately understood and the appropriate monitoring and regulations are in place to protect human health. For further detail see our Position Statement on Unconventional Gas Development.