A new health study into threats posed by fracking claims the risks to the public from exposure to emissions will be low if “operations are properly run and regulated”.
Public Health England (PHE) reviewed the potential impacts of fracking – the process of hydraulically fracturing rock deep underground using chemicals to extract shale gas – and said it would not contaminate groundwater.
The review of scientific literature focuses on the potential impact of chemicals and radioactive material from all stages of shale gas extraction, including the fracking of shale gas.
Dr John Harrison, director of PHE’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, said: “The currently available evidence indicates the potential risks to public health from exposure to emissions associated with the shale gas extraction process are low if operations are properly run and regulated.
“Where potential risks have been identified in other countries, the reported problems are typically due to operational failure.
“Good on-site management and appropriate regulation of all aspects of exploratory drilling, gas capture as well as the use and storage of fracking fluid is essential to minimise the risks to the environment and health.”
Cuadrilla Resources, the company in pole position to frack on the Fylde coast if it is given the green light to do so, today welcomed the report’s findings.
A spokesman for the company said: “The report provides welcome reassurance to people about hydraulic fracturing and should dispel scaremongering about its safety.
“We are complying with all of the agency’s recommendations, such as the public disclosure of the contents of our fracturing fluid and environmental monitoring before, during and after our operations.”
Meanwhile, the chief of the shale gas explorer Dart Energy has warned opponents to fracking are putting jobs at risk.
John McGoldrick, whose company has a licence to drill within an area of 500 square miles, from Wrexham to York, says opponents are also failing to take advantage of a fuel source that could power the country’s gas needs for four years from his company’s licences alone.
But Tina Rothery, of Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF), said: “They make wildly varying claims of job creation but fail to mention the specifics of duration or quality. There is also no mention of catastrophic job losses in agriculture and tourism that would result from even one chemical accident.”