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

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

I saw the immigration lies a mile off - and now nobody can deny it

Nigel Farage
The Uber app allows passengers to hail a taxi with a smartphone  

Who wouldn’t like a sharing economy? Well, me, for one

Mary Dejevsky
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game