Shale Gas Production in England – an updated public health assessment by Medact, July 7, 2016
Medact today released an updated assessment of the potential health impacts of shale fracking in England. This new report reaches broadly the same conclusions as our 2015 report Health and Fracking, however it is now supported by a much larger body of evidence published in the year since the first report was produced.
In the last year over 350 academic papers of various sorts have been published, examining the impacts of high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) for shale gas on air and water quality, health, climate change, social wellbeing, economics, noise and light pollution, and seismic events. This new report updates the findings of a review of the latest evidence. [Emphasis added]
Medact’s 2016 Report: Shale Gas Production in England, An Updated Public Health Assessment
From the updated 2016 report:
In April 2015, Medact published a review of the potential health impacts of shale gas production (SGP), including the process of high volume, hydraulic fracturing (HVHF). The report noted that:
• Significant health hazards are unavoidably associated with SGP and present real risks to the health and wellbeing of surrounding, local communities.
• The precise level of risk to health cannot be determined with certainty because:
a) there is incomplete knowledge about the toxicity of a number of potential pollutants;
b) SGP is an industrial process for which there are limited data and incomplete understanding; and
c) the level of risk and impact on health depends on a range of context-specific
geological, geographic, social, demographic, environmental and economic variables, including the number and density of wellpads and boreholes, and the size, composition and proximity of surrounding communities.
• The operating practices of shale gas companies, including how they treat and
dispose of waste, and the adequacy and effectiveness of the regulatory system, are
key variables in determining the safety of SGP.
• The regulatory framework for SGP in the UK was incomplete, unclear and potentially
inadequate; and the capacity of regulators was being eroded by budget and staff cuts.
Our view that the UK should abandon its policy to encourage SGP remains unchanged
We note that an industry-funded Task Force on Shale Gas, chaired by Chris Smith (former
Chair of the Environment Agency and former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and
Sport), produced a set of reports last year which concluded that SGP in the UK would be safe (to both human and environmental health), economically beneficial and important for the UK’s energy security. Having reviewed the reports we reject their conclusions, and
[Refer also to:
2015 03 30: British Medical Journal publishes letter by 20 high profile medical and public health experts calling for ban of “inherently risky” frac industry; Medact’s new report concludes: fracking “poses significant risks to public health”
Medact’s 2015 report: Health and Fracking, The impacts & opportunity costs