Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Fracking's hidden hazards made transparent

Letter sent to The Times, currently unpublished:

Your second Leader (“Free the frackers,” Times, Sep 20) ends with the assertion  that, as a priority, “Fracking needs to be explained, justified and pursued with determination.”

The last of these three should only follow the first. To date there are several matters that pro-frackers have not explained in regard to the ways in which they are going to resolve unresolved difficulties encountered.


A study published by independent academic researchers at the University of Missouri at the end of 2013 found greater hormone- disrupting  (so-called  ‘gender-bender’ chemicals) properties in water located near  fracking than in areas without drilling.


Endocrine disruptors interfere with the body’s endocrine system, which controls numerous body functions with hormones such as the female hormone estrogen and the male hormone androgen. Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as those studied in the MU research, has been linked by other research to cancer, birth defects and infertility. (for full study see:


Other US-based scientists at Yale University have found 55 fracking pollutants linked to cancer, including 20 associated with leukaemia or lymphoma. “These findings support the hypothesis that exposure to unconventional oil and gas development could increase the risk of leukaemia,” the recent study concludes.


The pollutants linked to leukaemia include benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde and several toxic types of hydrocarbons. More than 80 % of the 1,177 water pollutants and 143 air pollutants from the US fracking industry couldn’t be assessed for cancer risk because of a lack of data, the paper, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, states.


Moreover, research published in the US by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that found levels of radon in Pennsylvania homes – where 42% of readings surpass what the US government considers safe – have been on the rise since 2004, around the time that the fracking industry began drilling natural gas wells in the state. (Increased Levels of Radon in Pennsylvania Homes Correspond to Onset of Fracking’, April 9, 2015;


This concern has been further highlighted by a new study, by Joshua D. Landis at the Department of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hew Hampshire and colleagues, to be published in Chemical Geology on 30 September ‘Rapid desorption of radium isotopes from black shale during hydraulic fracturing,’


In the UK, the heath watchdog, Public Health England, warned in a report published nearly five years ago (30 October 2013)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.”

 (‘Shale gas extraction: review of the potential public health impacts of exposures to chemical and radioactive pollutants,

The claims made by opponents of fracking over its hazards are actually an underestimation of unsolved difficulties.

26 September 2018 at 12-40 pm
Fracking protestors jailed
Anti-fracking campaigners deserve our gratitude, not a prison term - Greenpeace UK
Commenting on the 15-month and 16-month jail sentences handed down to three anti-fracking protesters in Lancashire today, Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said:
"Peaceful protest is the safety-valve of a healthy democracy. It allows ordinary people to protect their health, families and homes from harm when all other safeguards have failed. It's a strange society that massively rewar...ds those responsible for causing more climate change while putting those trying to stop it in jail. Ministers have changed laws, taken away homeowners' rights and distorted the planning process to make way for the shale industry, yet it's four peaceful protesters that get punished for climbing on a lorry.
"As the world's leading scientists are about to issue their latest warning on the existential threat fossil fuels pose to our living world, these Lancashire protesters deserve our gratitude, not a prison term. They have done what this government promised to do but is yet to deliver - making sure that we can leave our children and grandchildren a healthier environment than the one we found."
24 September 2018
Rebecca Long-Bailey,
Shadow Secretary of
State for Business,
Energy and Industrial
Sue Hayman,
Shadow Secretary of
State for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs
Section 2:
Labour policies
Fracking would lock the UK into high carbon
energy infrastructure, would increase local air
pollution, create large volumes of waste water,
do little for the UK’s energy security, and is
unpopular with affected communities. That is
why Labour will:
Join France, Germany and other countries
around the world in banning fracking




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