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GP shares concerns about unconventional gas exploration

by S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow

Dr Catherin Pye was a guest on 5THE FM this morning speaking with Rebekah on the morning program, sharing her concerns about unconventional gas exploration and the adverse health effects it can have on a community.

“We need a healthy environment,  and healthy water for our communities to be healthy overall and anything that could endanger  these seriously concerns me,” she said.

“I understand that the whole of the lower South East of SA is covered by an exploration licence. They have drilled south of Penola and will soon drill north/west of Penola. These are test wells, not fracking, but they drill down through our aquifers to a depth of about four kilometers and I am concerned about the integrity of the well. If this fails it can release chemicals into the aquifers.”

Dr Pye said, “if they go ahead the landscape will change considerably. A shale gas field is a vast network of oil pads, roads, pipes, compressor stations and flair pits. Wells can be every five kilometres and if there are hundreds or thousands of wells across the South East it will devastate the landscape.”

When asked about our farmers and their rights, Dr Pye said, ” Farmers have no rights, they can say they don’t want drilling but ultimately the farmer has no rights in South Australia.”

“Fracking is a process that involves forcing chemicals underground and this is not the only concern, it is the chemicals that are released from underground too,” she said.

In a report from the United States it was reported that 944 products are used to frack, 633 of them are chemicals. Three quarters of these could affect eyes, skin, kidneys, brain and a quarter of them could cause cancer.

In Australia there are about 60 chemicals used and Dr Pye said as a doctor she is concerned about what they are.

“Chemicals used in fracking have to be disclosed in Western Australia but not in South Australia, and as doctors we need to know what is being used and potentially what patients may have been exposed to when they present at our surgeries and emergency departments.”

“Reports from Wyoming show household water is now black and can’t be used. Drinking water has to be trucked in for the whole town.”

“In Queensland symptoms appearing  include nose bleeds, headaches and school problems.”

“The Robe Council is supporting a moratorium and we hope that all councils in the South East will do the same.”

Dr Pye has a special interest in mental health and said a recent paper by a psychologist in the Hunter Valley, where fracking is taking place, says that the uncertainty and stress alone can have an effect on mental health.

“I am a strong believer in community and health is a big part of that,” she said.

Dr Pye will address the meeting tonight a the Film presentation – A Fractured Country -Unconventional Gas Exploration – at the Civic and Arts Centre at 7-30 pm tonight.

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