“The arguments against fracking on public health and ecological grounds are overwhelming. There are clear grounds for adopting the precautionary principle and prohibiting fracking”
– Quote from an open letter in the BMJ in support of Medact’s report on Health and Fracking: the impacts & opportunity costs.
Fracking is a term used to describe the process of high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) for unconventional shale gas deposits deep underground. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.
Medact began looking at the evidence regarding the safety of fracking in 2014 when it became UK policy to pursue shale gas extraction in the UK. Health concerns that have been raised in the US where it has been practised at scale for over a decade, relate to management of the waste water produced, the risk of leakage of gases and chemicals into surrounding air and water, the nuisance effects, and socio-economic impacts.
The first Medact report, Health and Fracking, bought together a range of experts to examine the available evidence regarding the health hazards and risks associated with fracking.
Since then, the report’s lead author David McCoy has given expert witness testimony to the public inquiry into fracking in Lancashire, at which he presented health evidence in defence of a local decision to refuse a planning application for exploratory drilling licences.
In July 2016 Medact released an updated summary report, linked to a longer fully-referenced review of the evidence, which reaffirms the conclusions of the first report based on the significantly increased body of peer-reviewed evidence.