Doctors Call for UK Fracking Moratorium in Wake of Hidden Air Pollution Report

Following the Conservative government’s blatant hiding of a critical air pollution report on fracking for three years –  the recently published Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG) report: Potential Air Quality Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in the UK – two consultants of medicine have written an open letter to Claire Perry MP, after she gave final permission to fracking exploration wannabes, Cuadrilla, to hydraulically fracture at Preston New Road in Lancashire.

Claire Perry MP, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Dr Barbara Kneale and Dr Francis Rugman outline in their letter that the whole fracking process will use and release chemicals and substances that are hazardous to health and that toxic air pollutants will be created.

Cuadrilla’s fracking site on Preston New Road also appears to be using local residents as a guinea pig experiment, with the letter stating that it will likely be:

“…a prospective observational study to monitor emissions of toxic chemicals, known to adversely impact human health.”

The authors talk about the abundance of research on health impacts from fracking, especially since the narrow-scoped 2014 Public Health England report on shale gas was published. The government have shamefully confirmed that they will not update this shallow report, even though hundreds of peer-reviewed evidence is now available. Minister Steve Brine weakly stated:

“Public Health England continues to review the evidence on the potential public health impacts of emissions associated with shale gas extraction and has not currently identified any significant evidence that would make it change its views stated in its 2014 Review.”

The authors also raised the urgent fact that there is still no evacuation plan for local residents close to the Preston New Road site – this has been a contentious topic for a long time. Repeated Freedom of Information requests have been submitted to reveal that in fact, there is no protection for the community who are forced to host fracking, beyond generic protocols:

“At Little Plumpton, no site-specific emergency evacuation plan has been described or published. Based on historical emergency evacuations in the USA and thermal modelling, people within low setback distances from fracking sites are potentially vulnerable to thermal injury during a well blowout, fire and/or explosion. According to air measurements and vapour dispersion modelling, the same populations are susceptible to carcinogenic benzene vapour and toxic hydrogen sulphide gas exposures above health-based risk levels.”

Drs Kneale and Rugman conclude by calling for an immediate moratorium until a “transparent review” can take place, evaluating all evidence surrounding health, safety and environmental issues. Additionally, they request that the 2014 Public Health England report on shale gas should be updated to consider all available evidence.

Closing their letter, the authors state:

Prohibiting the development of an industry that is potentially so harmful to the health of close residents, that has doubtful economic viability and runs counter to the direction of the necessary transition to renewable energy, should be regarded as a reasoned and sensible decision.


You can read and download the damning letter here: Open Letter to Claire Petter MP