Media release

AMA calls for coal seam gas health checks

The AMA Federal Council today passed a policy resolution calling on all Australian governments to ensure that all coal seam gas (CSG) mining proposals in Australia are subject to rigorous and independent health risk assessments before they are allowed to proceed.

The motion reads as follows:

That Federal Council adopts the policy resolution urging governments to ensure that:

  • all existing coal seam gas extraction projects are regularly monitored for any health impacts and the presence of air and ground-water pollutants in their local environment; and,
  • all future proposals for coal seam gas mining are subject to rigorous and independent health risk assessments, which take into account the potential for exposure to pollutants through air and groundwater and any likely associated health risks. In circumstances where there is insufficient evidence to ensure safety, the precautionary principle should apply.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that governments must strengthen the assessment and monitoring of the health impacts of coal seam gas (CSG) developments in Australia.

“Despite the rapid expansion of CSG developments, the health impacts have not been adequately researched, and effective regulations that protect public health are not in place,” Dr Hambleton said.

“There is a lack of information on the chemicals used and wastes produced, insufficient data on cumulative health impacts, and a lack of comprehensive environmental monitoring and health impact assessments.

“The assessment of the health impacts of CSG developments needs to strengthened and made consistent across all jurisdictions.  The regulation of CSG varies between the States, with standards for health regulation ranging from a degree of consideration to apparent disregard.

“In circumstances where there is insufficient evidence to ensure safety, the AMA recommends that the precautionary principle should apply.  This is essential given the threat of serious and irreversible harms to human health.

“The AMA welcomes the current move by the Commonwealth to strengthen environment protection laws relating to the impacts of CSG projects on water resources, but this must be supported with national standards and safeguards for health,” Dr Hambleton said.

23 May 2013

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