Letters: Safety of fracking is far from assured

These letters appear in the Monday 18th November edition of the Independent

Share

You quote the Director of Public Health England’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards that produced the fracking report (1 November), saying: “The currently available evidence indicates that 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.”  The minister responsible for fracking in England states: “The UK has the most robust regulatory regime in the world for shale gas and companies will only be granted permission to frack for shale if their operations are safe.” Low risk is of course not the same as safe.

There are major questions too about how a government committed to a deregulatory and reduced regulatory agenda, along with chopping budgets – and the resulting major job losses in agencies that have oversight of environmental pollution – will be capable of guaranteeing that fracking companies operate safely.

Also extraordinary is the minister’s unsubstantiated statement that the UK has the most robust regulatory regime for fracking. In other countries the exact chemicals used in fracking have been covered by commercial confidentiality and are not disclosed fully. So how can their risks be fully assessed and cleared for UK use?

The draft review itself does not provide information indicating it is a systematic review and provides minimal information about its method, rigour and results. Public health practitioners look for high-quality systematic reviews before accepting any conclusion about a lack of public health risk.

The review also notes many gaps and specifically excludes consideration of occupational health and safety and climate change. This is a very odd way of assessing public health threats and could for example lead to the impression that climate change does not impact on public health: something strongly refuted by those working in the field.

All in all, the report raises as many questions as it attempts to answer and most certainly does not show that fracking is safe, as the UK Government tries to assert.

Professor Andrew Watterson

Director of the Centre for Public Health and Population Health Research

University of Stirling

Impact of criminal law on the NHS

Wilful neglect of patients under NHS care must be prosecuted (report, 16 November), but what about care failings when the system is at complete overstretch? When does fewer nurses on a ward become a criminal act? Reactionary politics on healthcare or welfare may grab the headlines, but services can’t be threatened beyond their capacity into working even harder as a fix for funding or staffing gaps.

Ian McKenzie, Lincoln

 

Why should everyone be allowed to vote?

You have mis-represented what I said regarding universal suffrage (News in brief, 14 November). I said more electoral power should be given to “wealth creators”, not simply “the wealthy”. As I wrote in the original piece:

“Is the system fair when a shopkeeper pays rates on his house and his business, not to mention a heavy VAT and income tax bill, and gets one vote? Some of his neighbours have contributed nothing to the national exchequer at all, and maybe never will, and they get one vote too”.

Godfrey Bloom MEP, (Yorkshire and the Humber)

 

Here’s a good idea. When MEP Godfrey Bloom (who wants to strip the vote from the unemployed) stands for re-election, all his constituents, employed or not, can vote against him. Thus he would join the ranks of those he seems to despise. This would not stop him spouting drivel, but at least he would no longer be doing it at our expense.

William Roberts, Bristol

 

Nothing wrong with eating horsemeat

I see that Princess Anne is urging Britons to consider eating horsemeat (report, 15 November).

Well, during the Second World War, we ate whatever we could get – horsemeat, whalemeat, etc – and a couple of times we may have suspected that a meal described as, say, “rabbit meat” could have been something else. However, as long as it was tasty (and horsemeat was) we enjoyed it!

Barbara MacArthur, Cardiff

 

The idea that slaughtering horses for the UK dining table would somehow reduce the suffering of these animals is fanciful. What would happen is that horses would become a commercial product – just like pigs, cattle, poultry and sheep. Yet another livestock animal to be bred, fattened and slaughtered for the pot.

Sara Starkey, Tonbridge, Kent

 

Icebergs and archimedes

Your caption accompanying the picture of an iceberg separating from Pine Island Glacier in the Antarctic on  16 November claims:  “If it melts, it would increase global sea levels.”

Archimedes would weep! The ancient Greek philosopher recognised that a floating body displaces its own weight of water.

Thus once floating, an iceberg is already causing a sea level rise proportionate to its weight. The same notion applies to that portion of a glacier or ice-shelf which is wholly supported by the sea.

To minimise sea-level rise, we need to take steps to slow down movement or melting of ice still supported on land – Greenland and the Antarctic continent being of chief importance here.

Roger Knight, Swansea

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Simon Usborne: The more you watch pro cycling, the more you understand its social complexity

Simon Usborne
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice