Lack of investigation into health statistics 'concerning', says doctor
BRISBANE-based GP Geralyn McCarron has been trying to get health authorities to listen to her concerns about the alleged impacts of coal seam gas mining for years.
As a guest speaker at Pauline Hanson's visit to Chinchilla over CSG mining, Dr McCarron brought statistics acquired from Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service showing data which she had found worrying.
"I have tried to get the health authorities to take it seriously. And I haven't got very far,” Dr McCarron said.
"What I found out is there is a really big concern about cancer...which has not been investigated. Information I've been able to get from Darling Downs Health Service shows there has actually been a very, very significant increase in hospitalisations for heart disease for respiratory disease, for cancer and for attempted suicides in the (Western Downs).”
The CSG industry has always rejected claims there are any long-term negative health effects from their operations.
Dr McCarron has a long history of arguing against CSG developments, both in Australia and overseas.
Speaking to the Chinchilla News after the meeting, Dr McCarron elaborated: "Between 2007 and 2012 the population of the Darling Downs increased by 7% from 235,193 to 251,893.
"During the same time frame acute hospital admissions for respiratory conditions increased by 124%, acute hospital admissions for circulatory conditions increased by 114%, invasive cancer incidence increased by 14%, and hospital admissions for attempted suicides increased by 50%.”
A spokesperson for peak industry body, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, said the health figures showed no link to the CSG industry.
"Queensland Health confirmed as much with their investigation in 2013, at the height of natural gas production,” the spokesperson said.
"Lock the Gate's efforts to thinly disguise their advocacy does little to inform public discussion.”
Dr McCarron said research was yet to be conducted in Queensland between CSG and illness, but the US study, The Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (found here: concernedhealthny.org/compendium) found "a significant body of evidence has emerged to demonstrate that these activities (fracking) are dangerous to people and their communities in ways that are difficult - and may prove impossible - to mitigate. Risks include earthquakes and adverse impacts on water, air, agriculture, public health and safety, property values, climate stability, and economic vitality”.
The Independent Petroleum Associationof America's Energy In Depth website questioned the impartiality of the study. (found here: https://energyindepth.org/marcellus/three-important-facts-missing-from-stateimpacts-article-on-fracking-and-health/)
APPEA has written to One Nation's leader twice since the Federal election, offering Ms Hanson and her senators a chance to speak with local landholders, government and community leaders about their experiences as the gas industry developed.
APPEA chief executive Dr Malcolm Roberts said APPEA would welcome an opportunity to meet with One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson and colleagues to discuss the contribution the industry is making to jobs and development in regional Queensland.
"APPEA would be delighted to host Queensland's One Nation Senators on a site tour to highlight the CSG industry's positive contribution to regional economies. Senators would benefit from a balanced look at our operations,” he said.
"What has been achieved in the Surat Basin is a great Australian success story - one that has created thousands of jobs and delivered the biggest upgrade to local infrastructure since World War II.
"It is also a successful example of developing a new industry alongside rural industries.”
Dr Roberts said Industry understood that development can create tensions.
"But it's disappointing anti-fossil fuel activists are using dishonest, fear campaigns to alarm people in regional communities,” he added.
"Industry hopes One Nation can find time to meet with industry and groups other than those affiliated with the Lock the Gate Alliance whose stated objective is to stop fossil fuel production.”
Last week's visit by Senator Hanson to the Western Downs' gas fields was hosted by the Western Downs Alliance.