Local doctor talks of ‘catastrophic’ CSG health impact by Andy Parks, November 21, 2013, Northern Star
After an extensive examination of the worldwide literature available on the health impact of unconventional gas mining, local clinical psychologist Dr Wayne Sommerville has concluded that there is a “high likelihood of catastrophic health impact from operating gas fields in populated areas”. Dr Sommerville has compiled a 54-page report (including references) that he has distributed to every state and federal parliamentarian in NSW, Queensland and Victoria as well as several local councils potentially affected by CSG mining.
The report looks at the possible physical and mental health impacts of CSG and shale mining in areas where there is human habitation nearby, as well as the potential impact on workers in the industry. The report starts by quoting the president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Steve Hambleton, who urges that the precautionary principle be applied. “Despite the rapid expansion of CSG developments, the health impacts have not been adequately researched, and effective regulations that protect public health are not in place,” Dr Hambleton is quoted saying. “There is a lack of information on the chemicals used and wastes produced, insufficient data on cumulative health impacts, and a lack of comprehensive environmental monitoring and health impact assessments.
“In circumstances where there is insufficient evidence to ensure safety, the AMA recommends that the precautionary principle should apply.
“This is essential given the threat of serious and irreversible harms to human health.”
Dr Sommerville, who will speak at Kyogle Hall on Saturday from 3pm, said communities needed to take it upon themselves to do their own baseline health testing because “no one else is doing it”. He has included in his report a series of questionnaires for people to keep ongoing records and observations. “If repeated at intervals, should gas development occur, the questionnaires can provide either ongoing reassurance of a clean bill of health, or alternatively early recognition of a significant change in health status.”
Dr Sommerville recently met with Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson and representatives from Kyogle Council and Mr Henderson maintained the industry was “proven to be safe”. Mr Henderson has agreed to provide Dr Sommerville with scientific evidence of these claims within the next two weeks. [Emphasis added]
CSG and Your Health: Understand the Risks, Protect Your Family, Self-help Risk Management Tools: A Report on the Health Impacts of CSG and Shale Gas Mining & CSG Health Checklists by Dr Wayne Somerville B.A.(Hons.), M.Clin.Psych., D.Psy. Clinical Psychologist, 2013