The recently published Medact report on the health impacts of fracking mentions that “There are now over 450 peer-reviewed publications in this
field, consisting of studies, reviews and commentaries. “
Some of the key ones are the December 2014 review of evidence by the New York State Department of Health (already published on this site), plus four other reports not seen here before:
The evidence is very, very clear.
Anybody who ignores it is either:
a) unintelligent, or
b) lying, and
c) doesn’t care about the health of the people or the other negative impacts, which are now very well known and well documented.
Eighteen senior UK health professionals have written to the British Medical Journal, saying that “The arguments against fracking on public health and ecological grounds are overwhelming.”
The BMJ has published the letter.
The letter mentions a recent report by Medact (a UK-based organisation of “Health professionals for a safer, fairer & better world”).
You can read the report here.
You can read the letter to the BMJ below, and also here.
We write as concerned health professionals who seek to draw the public’s attention to the dangers associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and shale gas extraction in the United Kingdom, as highlighted by a recent report published by Medact.
Fracking is an inherently risky activity that produces hazardous levels of air and water pollution that can have adverse impacts on health. The heavy traffic, noise and odour that accompanies fracking, as well as the socially disruptive effects of temporary ‘boomtowns’ and the spoilage of the natural environment are additional health hazards.
Such risks would be magnified in the UK where fracking is projected to take place in closer proximity to more densely populated communities; and where there are concerns about the effectiveness of the regulatory system for onshore gas extraction.
But in addition to this, shale gas is not a clean source of energy. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas in its own right, and when burnt, produces carbon dioxide. Shale gas extraction would undermine our commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and be incompatible with global efforts to prevent global warming from exceeding two degrees centigrade.
The arguments against fracking on public health and ecological grounds are overwhelming. There are clear grounds for adopting the precautionary principle and prohibiting fracking.
Dr Robin Stott, Co-Chair, Climate and Health Council
Professor Sue Atkinson CBE, Co-Chair, Climate and Health Counci
Professor Hugh Montgomery, UCL
Professor Maya Rao OBE
Professor Martin McKee, LSHTM
Dr Clare Gerada, GP and former Chair of RGCP
Dr Christopher Birt, University of Liverpool and Christie Hospital, Manchester
Professor John Yudkin, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, UCL
Dr Sheila Adam, former Deputy Chief Medical Officer
Professor Klim McPherson, Chair of the UK Health Forum
Dr John Middleton, Vice President UKFPH
Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, KCL
Helen Gordon, Chief Executive, RPS
Dr Frank Boulton, Medact and Southampton University
Dr Sarah Walpole, Academic Clinical Fellow
Professor Allyson Pollock, QMUL
Dr Julie Hotchkiss, Acting Director of Public Health at City of a York Council
Professor Jennie Popay, Lancaster University
Competing interests: No competing interests
In 2011 the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce asked 14 leading oil and gas service companies to disclose the types and volumes of the hydraulic fracturing products they used in their fracking fluids between 2005 and 2009.
The resulting report can be accessed here.
The relevant extract from the Executive Summary reads [emphasis added]:
“Between 2005 and 2009, the 14 oil and gas service companies used more than 2,500 hydraulic fracturing products containing 750 chemicals and other components. Overall, these companies used 780 million gallons of hydraulic fracturing products – not including water added at the well site – between 2005 and 2009.
“Some of the components used in the hydraulic fracturing products were common and generally harmless, such as salt and citric acid [though do you want these added to your groundwater?]. Some were unexpected, such as instant coffee and walnut hulls. And some were extremely toxic, such as benzene and lead.
“The most widely used chemical in hydraulic fracturing during this time period, as measured by the number of compounds containing the chemical, was methanol. Methanol, which was used in 342 hydraulic fracturing products, is a hazardous air pollutant and is on the candidate list for potential regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
“Between 2005 and 2009, the oil and gas service companies used hydraulic fracturing products containing 29 chemicals that are (1) known or possible human carcinogens, (2) regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act for their risks to human health, or (3) listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. These 29 chemicals were components of more than 650 different products used in hydraulic fracturing.
“The BTEX compounds – benzene, toluene, xylene, and ethylbenzene – appeared in 60 of the hydraulic fracturing products used between 2005 and 2009. Each BTEX compound is a regulated contaminant under the Safe Drinking Water Act and a hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Benzene also is a known human carcinogen. The hydraulic fracturing companies injected 11.4 million gallons of products containing at least one BTEX chemical over the five year period.
“In many instances, the oil and gas service companies were unable to provide the Committee with a complete chemical makeup of the hydraulic fracturing fluids they used. Between 2005 and 2009, the companies used 94 million gallons of 279 products that contained at least one chemical or component that the manufacturers deemed proprietary or a trade secret. Committee staff requested that these companies disclose this proprietary information. Although some companies did provide information about these proprietary fluids, in most cases the companies stated that they did not have access to proprietary information about products they purchased “off the shelf” from chemical suppliers. In these cases, the companies are injecting fluids containing chemicals that they themselves cannot identify. “
Academics from Warwick Business School and University College London have published an opinion piece based on research funded by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC).
They advise policymakers that, for continuing economic, social and environmental reasons, the UK’s gas strategy should be developed on the assumption that there will be no domestically produced shale gas.
They say that recovery of UK shale gas (while still keeping within two degrees of climate change) might only be an option if ten conditions apply.
Summarising, these conditions include:
Given that Deutsche Bank (and others) is already saying that solar power has won, these conditions seem increasingly unlikely to be met. (In some countries, such as Australia, solar electricity is already less than half the retail price of electricity from the power companies. Within two years it expected to reach ‘grid parity’ in around 80% of countries worldwide.)
You can read more about the academics’ report at: http://phys.org/news/2015-03-shale-gas-uk-low-carbon-transition.html
We have recently made enquiries with the NFU regarding their policy cover in relation to fracking-related accidents.
They have confirmed that you are not fully covered if there is an accident/contamination on your land which is caused by fracking activity on a third party site. There are exclusions and limitations.
We urge all farmers and landowners to check with their insurance providers (particularly if it is with the NFU) on the specific exclusions and limitations of individual policies.
Your insurance cover may not be fit for purpose.
For more information on the potential accident and contamination risks from fracking, please visit our dedicated farmers and landowners page.
Yesterday, 4th March 2015, a man from Banbury called Paul Mobbs went to Downing Street with the intention of making a citizens arrest of four key members of government who he believes are guilty of ‘Misconduct In Public Office’ in relation to fracking.
The police refused to allow him entry, so he explained his reasons and showed them his evidence.
After several hours, when they still refused, he threatened to block access to Downing Street and was arrested under the Terrorism Act.
Because he was carrying his documented evidence on his person, this will now have to be taken in as evidence when charges are brought.
You can read below the account given yesterday by one of his supporters. A separate post later in the evening announced that he had been released and was back at home.
The two linked sites contain interesting information.
A Film Night Social was held in Hovingham 4th March with residents from surrounding villages including Terrington, Slingsby, Nunnington and Stonegrave.
65 people watched Groundswell RISING, a one hour compelling documentary about the human side of fracking.
Coffee and home made cakes were provided generous by artizan supporters.
FFR merchandise including badges, car stickers and bags were sold on the evening.
All proceeds were earmarked in support of our neighbours and friends in Kirby Misperton for the planning objection. (We estimate we will need as much as £15,000 to prepare a detailed technical objection.) More than £300 was generously donated on the night. Our list of Businesses and Landowners against fracking is growing by the day.
The next film night will be in Kirby Misperton Village Hall, 11th March.
Thanks for everyone’s support tonight.