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HEALTH RISKS FOR
COMMUNITIES LIVING NEAR CSG ACTIVITIES
March 20, 2013 - The National Toxics Network
(NTN) and Lock the Gate (LTG) coalition are calling on federal and
state governments to take urgent action to protect the health of all
communities living around coal seam gas (CSG) fields after the
release of the Queensland Government’s report into the health of
the fact this was not a comprehensive health study it still found
children living at Tara were exposed to numerous toxic volatile
organic compounds (VOCs) in the air, some at levels above health
criteria,” said Drew Hutton, spokesperson from LTG.
The Queensland Government Health Report
acknowledges that while it was ‘..Unable to determine whether any of
the health effects reported by the community are linked to exposure
to Coal Seam Gas activities, it does provide some evidence that
might associate some of the residents’ symptoms to exposures to
airborne contaminants arising from CSG activities.’
“The CSG industry testing on which the Queensland
Government’s Health report is largely based is very limited and
leaves many questions unanswered,” said Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith,
NTN’s CSG Advisor.
was no systematic approach to assessing the chemical pollutants. In
most cases only one air sample was collected for each property, yet
carcinogens like benzene and the neurotoxin toluene, were found in
the air around Tara homes. We know from studies overseas that air
monitoring needs to occur over months to ensure a true picture of
air pollution from unconventional gas activities,” said Dr Mariann
repeats the unfounded statements that there were ‘few exceedances
for individual chemicals’. There was no attempt to assess those
cases where exceedances did occur; they are simply dismissed. There
was no consideration or assessment of cumulative or aggregate
impacts even when some residences recorded a number of air
contaminants and vulnerable children were being exposed, said Dr
concludes that there was ‘no evidence of contamination of concern’,
yet for many of the chemicals assessed the level of detection used
by the laboratories was well above the level set for the protection
of health,” Dr Lloyd-Smith said.
“Of great concern was the detection of benzene at
levels above health criteria.
Benzene is a confirmed human carcinogen. Yet
these results were dismissed in the report with the claim that
‘benzene was not a compound that is found in CSG and therefore
cannot be attributed to CSG activities’” said Dr Lloyd-Smith.
Queensland’s Department of Environment and
Heritage Protection website states that “BTEX compounds (benzene,
toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene) are found naturally in crude oil,
coal and gas deposits and therefore they can be naturally present at
low concentrations in groundwater near these deposits”.
"Of the 11 families and over 50 people reporting
symptoms like headache, rashes, nausea and nosebleeds, only 15
people were seen in person and another two by telephone,” said Drew
Hutton from LTG.
Report recognises the limitations of industry sampling for not even
testing for toxic metals like arsenic, cadmium, chromium (III and
VI), lead, and inorganic mercury; the metals that are of ‘more
relevance to public health considerations of soil contamination’.
“The Health Report and the documents on which it
relies do not represent an acceptable investigation of the potential
impacts of CSG activities on local residents and should not be used
by either government or industry to claim a clean bill of health”.
“Instead the detection of such a wide range of
VOCs in air should prompt an immediate independent, broad-spectrum,
high-periodicity, long-term, monitoring program,” they concluded.
Drew Hutton 0428487110
Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith PhD (Law)
PH: (612) 66815340 / 0413 621557
Review of Dept. of Health, Coal seam gas in the Tara region: Summary
risk assessment of health complaints and environmental monitoring
data, March 2013
Queensland Gas Company Environmental Health Assessment Report Tara
Complaint Investigation Report, January 2013 Final REF: 0181432R01
(known as the ERM Report)
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