Health review call over Fylde fracking

Cuadrilla's drilling rig at Preston New Road
Cuadrilla's drilling rig at Preston New Road

Anti-fracking activists are calling on a national health body to look again at its report on fracking, after a study in the US warned of health impacts for those living near drill sites.

A petition is set to be sent to Public Health England calling on the body to review its 2014 report which concluded that fracking should have no major health impacts if conducted and regulated.

But the scope of that review has been criticised and this week the group Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy, along with the University of California and Harvey Mudd College, published a report showing 17.6 million American live within a mile of a drill site and warning that they could potentially be at risk of health problems from emissions ranging eye nose and throat irritations to increased risk of cardiac problems and neurological issues.

Eliza Czolowski, a research associate at PSE and lead author on the study, said: “When one in two members of a population are potentially exposed to a health risk, that’s a significant public-health concern.”

Fracking supporters point out that techniques in the US differ from those to be used in the UK and that regulations will be more strict.

A spokesman for industry body UKOOG said: “This study attempts to link living in proximity to an oil or gas well to health impacts. The study used aggregated findings of separate peer reviewed studies.

“It then cites all the studies which have suggested this but fail to clarify that not one of these studies have proven a causal link.”

Dr Frank Rugman, from Preston New Road Action Group, who is to deliver the petition, said: “At Little Plumpton, unfortunate residents just 350 metres from the site may also be subjected to night-time noise at 42 dB.

“Sleep disturbance, particularly in vulnerable residents, can aggravate cardiovascular and arterial disease, impair cognitive function and impair learning in children.

“Despite industry claims of safety and better regulations, reports of air or water pollution and negative health impacts continue to accumulate.”

A spokesman for Frack Free Lancashire said: “With evidence mounting on the negative impacts from air, light and noise pollution, this issue can no longer be swept under the carpet.”