[Press release] EPA proposed fracking research ignores public health

Press release 03.02.13

“Public Health is an essential aspect of any research study on fracking,” states Dr Aedín McLoughlin of Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI). “Whereas globally, attention is focussed on the environmental impacts of fracking, health does not depend on a clean environment alone; social and economic factors are also important, e.g. living conditions, a feeling of belonging, social justice, community and culture, social services, good jobs and fair wages. A major study on shale gas development from New Brunswick* recommends the submission of a Health Impact Assessment (HIA), which includes all the above factors, on proposed shale gas projects.
The EPA proposed Terms of Reference for an extended study on fracking shows a lack of concern for Public Health. There is no representative from the Department of Health on the Steering Committee to oversee the study and no proposal to include a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) in the Terms of Reference. The New Brunswick report clearly shows the importance of having Public Health as a central element in any study on the impacts of fracking.
Whereas an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is proposed, we say that this is not enough. An EIA assumes that if regulations are put in place to protect the environment, then health will also be protected. Clean air and water are indeed important for health. However, only a HIA will include study of social and economic impacts, equally important for community well-being.
We know from the exploratory company Tamboran Resources what is planned for Leitrim in the first phase of shale gas extraction2. 50,000 acres of rural Leitrim to be industrialised; 60 x 7-acre mining pads constructed with up to 24 wells drilled and fracked per pad, 1,500 wells in total over 15 years; enormous volumes of water used and wastewater produced; access roads, heavy traffic and gas-pipe networks throughout the area.
GEAI demands that the EPA research study includes a Health Impact Assessment using this scenario of gas extraction. The EPA has invited submissions on the proposed Terms of Reference, with a deadline of 8th March. We call on all concerned citizens to join with us and to send submissions to the EPA demanding such a Health Impact Assessment.”
Download a submission template as a word document [doc].
* Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick. (September 2012)

EPA Public Consultation

Proposed Terms of Reference for Research Programme on Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Gas Exploration & Extraction (UGEE)

Drilling stage

Discussion Topics:  Each topics section has a space for comments, you can join in the discussion!

Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction is an emerging issue in Ireland, in particular with regard to the use of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) technology (EPA press release). The EPA initially commissioned preliminary desk research which was published in May 2012.  A Steering Committee has developed proposed Terms of Reference for a more extensive programme of research and the EPA has now launched a public consultation on the draft Terms of Reference document on behalf of the steering committee.

Submissions invited, to be in by 8th March.

GEAI respects the right of people and groups to engage or not to engage in the EPA Public Consultation process.

Proposed Terms of Reference document (complete) [pdf]
Proposed Terms of Reference document (summary) [pdf]
About Submissions [doc]

Submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee

Fracking / Shale Gas Extraction
This submission was sent to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture in June 2012. It gives a brief outline of the main scientific issues associated with shale gas extraction in a non-technical way. It is not comprehensive but is meant to provide a basis for discussion by the Committee. GEAI has asked to attend a meeting of the committee to discuss the issues.


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