Dear Mr Cameron: Don’t Let Fracking Be The Next Asbestos

Dame Vivienne Westwood joined Santa Claus to help deliver an Absestos Christmas present to Prime Minister David Cameron – to drive home the dangers of Fracking to the British public.

The Government’s own chief scientist, Professor Sir Mark Walport, in his recently published annual report compared the potential dangers posed to the British public by Fracking with asbestos and thalidomide. Walport’s report says: “History presents plenty of examples of innovation trajectories that later proved to be problematic — for instance involving asbestos, benzene, thalidomide, dioxins, lead in petrol, many pesticides, mercury, chlorine and endocrine-disrupting compounds…”1.

Vivienne and Joe at Downing Street

Our Christmas card was titled “Don’t let fracking be the next asbestos” and the message inside read:

Dear David,

Your Chief Scientific Advisor has given the clearest signal yet of extreme caution, highlighting how the dash for shale gas could end up being one of those gravely mistaken innovation choices, with disastrous medical and health consequences, like the push for Asbestos and Thalidomide a few decades ago.

Considering the contents of this latest report from Professor Sir Mark Walport, we are sending you this festive gift. We also enclose some recent reports that show clear links between the fracking industry and birth defects, in addition to many other very serious health issues.

Although you have no democratic mandate to foist fracking onto the British people, or to sweep away our protections under civil law in order to allow drilling companies to drill under our homes, schools and environment without our consent, this is precisely what you are doing.

Please take some time over the festive period to consider the legacy that your decisions as Prime Minister will have on the British people and our green and pleasant land. We don’t want fracking to be the next Asbestos or Thalidomide, and we’re sure you wouldn’t want that on your hands either.

Wishing you a merry Christmas
Talk Fracking

Inside the Christmas card we inserted a copy of our open letter signed by 150 high profile individuals and organisations including Sir Paul McCartney, his daughter Stella, Yoko Ono, Helena Bonham Carter, Jude Law, Sadie Frost, Greta Scacchi, Sir John Elliot Gardiner, Bianca Jagger, Lily Cole, Thom Yorke, Russell Brand, Vanessa Redgrave and Sir Antony Gormley; calling for an immediate suspension of fracking in the UK.

We also enclosed the following reports:

1. Innovation: managing risk, not avoiding it – Prof. Sir Mark Walport. The UK Government Chief Scientific Advisor’s annual report for 2014.

2. Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction). First Edition – July 2014

3. Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction). Second Edition – December 2014.

4. Developmental and reproductive effects of chemicals associated with unconventional oil and natural gas operations. December 2014.

5. Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania. National Institute of Environmental Health Science. September 2014.

6. A Human Rights Assessment of Hydraulic Fracturing and Other Unconventional Gas Development in the United Kingdom. Human Rights Consortium, Environment and Human Rights Advisory & Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment. October 2014. Commissioned by The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation.

During the Christmas break, we hope David Cameron will read these reports and consider the serious consequences of his desperate rush to impose the risks of fracking on the British people.

Our Christams gift was supported by Medact, a registered public health charity concerned with the social and ecological determinants of health. It has over nine hundred members, the majority of whom are public health specialists and clinicians. They are currently producing an expert position paper – due for release in February 2015 – on the health effects of Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in the UK2.

Medact consider the report by Public Health England (PHE) into Fracking inadequate and incomplete. Medact say that the PHE report was inadequate for a number of reasons: Firstly it’s scope was narrow and limited to direct health impacts of fracking due to air pollution, water pollution and land/waste issues. Ignored were occupational exposure, water sustainability, noise pollution, traffic, odour, visual impact and wider public health issues. It also excluded public health impacts of fugitive gas emissions and global warming and excluded assessment of specific geological features in the UK such as seismicity and the proximity of shale gas beds to communities, farms and aquifers. It also excluded the impact of fracking on employment and the local economy.

Talk Fracking