A crowd of over 150 people were told that the precautionary principle needs to be applied when considering the public health implications of Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking).
Dr. Carroll O Dolan G.P from Blacklion, Co. Cavan was one of the panelists speaking in Manorhamilton at a public meeting organised by the Love Leitrim last, Tuesday, June 12.
The purpose of the night was to review the recent Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) report. Among the limitations of the report according to Rob Doyle MVB was that its terms of reference failed to look at the impact of the procedure on the wider environment and landscape, on climate change, or its potential to displace jobs in agriculture and tourism, along with its risk to community cohesion and public health.
The paper itself drew from only seven core peer reviewed studies. The geology in these parts of America did not compare with the complex geology of Ireland.
The shallow fracking process used would also be closer to the water aquifers, making pollution a higher risk.
Dr O Dolan spoke on public and animal health risks. The precautionary principle states that in the absence of conclusive evidence the burden of proof should lie with the Gas Company to prove that Fracking is safe.
Lack of overall monitoring and the non-disclosure by companies about the chemicals used has meant that public health issues are now only coming to the fore.
Dr. O Dolan reviewed emerging evidence that has been collected by peer-reviewed sources over recent years backing up local communities concerns. Professor Emeritus of Zoology, Theo Colburn was forced to collate evidence at industrial accident sites.
Of her analysis on the chemicals involved throughout the shale gas extraction process, 90% can have adverse effects on sensory organs: 50% can impact the Central Nervous System; 37% the endocrine system; and 25% can cause DNA mutations or cancer.
Further studies illustrated on animals that drank from ponds contaminated by spillages from gas company wastewater, causing death and reproductive disorder. O Dolan warned that animals can be the markers to human health. He said that there was a need to learn from the mistakes made in relation to lead, asbestos, and the tobacco industry, where inaction caused serious public health issues.
Dr. O Dolan finished with a quote from Professor Robert Oswald of Cornell University “Without rigorous scientific studies the gas drilling boom sweeping the world will remain an uncontrolled health experiment on an enormous scale”