WEST Clare could be enveloped in a “toxic mud” that would be poisonous to animal, plant and human life should fracking be allowed to take place. That is the opinion of one of Ireland’s top doctors, Dr Elizabeth Cullen of the Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association, who believes that an outright ban on fracking should be put in place to avert a possible public health catastrophe.
This stark warning comes following a decision by the Department of the Environment not to follow the example set by Clare County Council last month and ban fracking. Speaking in the Dáil last week the Minister for State in the Department of the Environment, Fergus O’Dowd (FG), refused to back any move to ban fracking, saying that there could be billions of Euro in untapped gas resources which could provide a “massive economic boost” for the country.
According to Dr Cullen the toxic mud and other ﬂuids produced by fracking could have a massive negative impact on all lives in West Clare. “It is difﬁcult to ascertain the precise nature of chemicals used in fracking. Drilling companies to date, it seems, have not registered the chemicals they use according to the European law REACH,” she said.
“Research in the US has found that 58 out of 262 chemicals used in fracking gave rise for concern. Among these, 17 were found to be toxic to aquatic organisms, 38 were classiﬁed as being acutely toxic to human health and eight were classiﬁed as known carcinogens. Six were suspected carcinogens, seven were mutagenic and ﬁve were known to have adverse impacts on the reproductive system.”
Dr Cullen raised a number of other possible concerns about the fracking process including the risk of large amounts of contaminated fracking ﬂuid remaining underwater and entering the natural water system.
There is also research which indicates that fracking can lead to a build-up of methane gas in private wells close to the fracturing site – which could lead to explosion, air pollution and an increased release of radon.
The Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association also highlighted the possibility of soil contamination which could hurt West Clare as a tourist location and as an agricultural area.
A spokesperson for Clare Fracking Concerned last week criticised the Government, saying that they had no faith in the Government to address the fears of people effected by fracking in West Clare.