‘Big gaps’ in CSG studies

A SENATE inquiry investigating the coal seam gas industry has been urged to recommend "full mandatory disclosure" of all chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing drilling in Australia.

The call from Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) came during a Darwin hearing of the Senate crossbench-led inquiry into unconventional gas on Tuesday.

It follows ARM Newsdesk last week revealing the national industrial chemicals regulator allowed Halliburton to keep some 95% of the ingredients in a drilling chemical confidential in an approval last year.

DEA's Dr Marion Carey told the inquiry that while the links between human health problems and the CSG industry had not been proven, there were "big gaps" in recent studies investigating the links.

She said that many people complaining of health problems had not been assessed, and of those who had, much of the data used in a 2012 Queensland study was incomplete or supplied by the industry.

"The starting point is to get that environmental information - that information about what chemicals are being used," she said.

"I find it extraordinary that our national chemicals regulator doesn't have the power to require that information."

Confidentiality rules mean many of the ingredients cannot be directly linked to specific products being imported.

A submission from the DEA recommended the Federal Government impose a national moratorium on all new unconventional gas operations until "health risk assessments" of the industry were completed.

Similarly, the group wanted a "health impact assessment" completed on all operations, including "full mandatory disclosure of all chemicals used in fracking and assessment of their potential for short- and long-term health impacts".

The Australian Petroleum Producers' and Explorers' Association's Rick Wilkinson told the committee there had been no direct links between hydraulic fracturing and health problems.

But he said that did not mean there weren't concerns about wider CSG extraction methods.

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