Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Fracked off: new report discredited

The final report of the Task Force on Shale Gas (TFSG) published today  asserts: ”Everyone has a right to make their own personal decision on the issue of shale gas on the basis of trusted and factual information. The guiding principle of the Task Force remains to provide that information (https://www.taskforceonshalegas.uk/).  

The fracking task force concludes, inter alia, that: shale gas “can be produced safely and usefully in the UK provided that the Government insists on industry-leading standards”  

I provided factual information the  task force, having previously corresponded on the same issues with task force chairman, Lord Smith, at the end of his  period chair of the Environment Agency (responsible for regulating fracking) in summer 2014

I specifically raised with Lord Smith  the concerns over radon risks from fracking, as extensively aired in the US (http://energyindepth.org/wp-content/uploads/marcellus/2012/04/Resnikoff.pdf) but barely at all in the UK, and the health hazards posed by endocrine disrupter chemicals - so called ‘gender-bender’ chemical additives-  used in fracking fluids.

In his letter of response dated 8 July, Lord Smith, confirmed the Environment Agency was “aware of the use of endocrine disrupters in some parts of the USA” stressing “the way we will regulate shale gas fracking in England will reduce the risk from endocrine disrupters by appropriate management of chemicals and the treatment and disposal of flow  back fluid.” Note he did not say eliminate, but only “reduce the risk” of these hazardous chemicals.

Two years ago this month, academic researchers at the University of Missouri, released the results of research they had conducted into the known chemicals used in fracking. Their research paper, Estrogen and Androgen Receptor Activities of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Surface and Ground Water in a Drilling-Dense Region, published in the journal Endocrinology.( Volume 155 Issue 3 - March 2014 http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/en.2013-1697), found higher levels of hormone-disrupting ('gender-bender) activity in water located near fracking wells than in areas without drilling.

On radon gas risks, Lord Smith  merely passed the buck to Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive, two other regulatory quangos, and HPE’s interim report on the Review of the potential Public Health Impacts of Exposures to Chemical and Radioactive Pollutants as a Result of Shale Gas Extraction Process,

This is what the PHE final report - published in October 2014 - actually states:“If the natural gas delivery point were to be close to the extraction point with a short transit time, radon present in the natural gas would have little time to decay….there is therefore, the potential for radon gas to be present in natural gas extracted from UK shale.” (http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1317140158707)

In the task force  second interim report, published in July this year, it looked at the impacts of shale gas associated with the local environment, including  potential impacts on air and water and on public health impacts.

No mention is made of the critical evidence I submitted, not even to refute it. 

I was promised evidence submitted to the task force would be published on its web site. That has not happened either. 

I have no faith whatever in the credibility of this task force, which was fully funded by the fracking industry. Touché! 

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