QUT professor calls for bipartisan approach to fracking in WA


Professor Melissa Haswell was at the meeting in St Georges Cathedral. Picture: Bruce Hunt
Professor Melissa Haswell was at the meeting in St Georges Cathedral. Picture: Bruce Hunt

PEOPLE often do not realise how complex fracking is, according to Professor Melissa Haswell.

Prof Haswell, from Queensland University of Technology’s Faculty of Health, was in Perth last week to present a paper, which includes a critical review of the 2016 WA Health Department’s report on the health impacts of fracking and the 2015 WA Parliamentary Inquiry on fracking, at a public forum.

She has called on WA politicians to show a bipartisan and binding commitment to conducting an improved parliamentary review in light of existing knowledge on health and environmental risks of fracking.

She told the Guardian Express she wanted to bring awareness about the potential impact of fracking to WA people.

“People don’t realise that it is not a simple issue,” she said.

“There is a lot of literature on unconventional gas mining.”

Prof Haswell said research suggested a link between living close to unconventional gas operations and higher frequencies of negative health indicators, such as lower birth weights, more birth complications, more self-reported symptoms such as migraines, nasal and sinus problems and extreme fatigue.

She said it also indicated more hospitalisations due to heart, nerve and asthma conditions.

Prof Haswell said more research was still needed.

“Knowledge is particularly lacking on the risks to children and older people should they be exposed to these hazards,” she said.

Frack Free Future coordinator Jules Kirby said a five-year moratorium should be immediately enacted by parliament.

Mr Kirby said the upcoming public forum would underscore the growing public concern over this dangerous and accident-prone industry.