It is difficult to raise the issue of health impacts without appearing to be scaremongering.
There are many unknowns – not least which chemicals may be used when fracking goes into production, and which compounds will be brought up and in what quantities in the flow back water.
We can though be pretty sure that a significant level of fugitive methane emissions will be released around each well.
In Pennsylvania they are maintaining a list called “The List of The Harmed” which shows some of this impact.
The industry will tell you these cases are not proven, and they are right that court cases have not yet been resolved.
We invite you to follow this link and draw your own conclusions.
The industry itself has long campaigned to dismiss claims that the environmental and health impacts of fracking are a valid concern.
A study by the University of Texas, and even quoted in New Scientist was released earlier in 2012 which absolved fracking from any blame saying the scientists could find no evidence linking groundwater contamination to fracking operations many hundreds of metres below. This report has now had to be withdrawn after concerns were raised about potential conflicts of interest of the report’s authors and its lack of scientific rigour.
In studies of controversial topics, such as the impact on public health and the environment potentially stemming from shale-gas hydraulic fracturing, credibility hinges upon full disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest by all participants and upon rigorous, independent reviews of findings. This study failed in both regards,” stated the panel, which released its findings Friday.
This report turned out to be similar to a fracking study at the State University of New York at Buffalo, which was also recently withdrawn because of questions about its credibility.
The Globe and Mail and other major media covering that press conference reported that the University of Texas had found there was no evidence to support concerns that fracking damages groundwater.
“You were misled,” said Kevin Connor, director of the Public Accountability Initiative, who raised questions on Dr. Groat’s conflict. “The science isn’t there.”
A telling comment concludes this article and sums up one of the main issues for us:
I think the oil and gas industry is really desperate to go full speed ahead with fracking, and through various means and mechanisms are trying to get out in to the public debate, academic studies that absolve the industry,” he said.
In a press release, accepting the findings of the review panel and announcing strict new conflict-of-interest guidelines, the University of Texas noted that Dr. Groat has since retired and Raymond Orbach has resigned as director of the Energy Institute.
In British Columbia, where the gas industry is racing to tap into vast shale deposits in the northeast, the government has been assuring first nations that fracking is not causing any environmental harm. The groundwater is safe, the government says. It is now clear there is reason to doubt that.
For more information about potential health impacts this video is quite worrying, not least because hearing somebody who is like your grandma explaining in a measured voice how risky this process really is, is rather disconcerting,