UN urged to ban fracking to safeguard UK women

180403 100 women march Dan Harvey5

Women opposing Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site near Blackpool, 3 April 2018. Photo: Dan Harvey

The actor and UN human rights champion, Amber Heard, is among a group of campaigners, academics and environmentalists who are urging the United Nations today to ban fracking to protect the health of women in the UK.

The former wife of Johnny Depp makes the call in a letter to a meeting in Geneva on the Conventional of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

The letter’s signatories also include the environmental campaigner, Dame Vivienne Westwood, and Wenonah Hauter, of Food and Water Watch, as well as action groups, academics and the National Union of Students.

The meeting will be attended by senior civil servants from the UK government’s equalities office, Ministry of Justice and the Department of Work and Pensions

In summer 2018, CEDAW asked the UK Government to provide information on the measures being taken to mitigate and address the health and environmental impacts of toxic substances from planned fracking activities on women and girls.

The UK Government replied in November 2018, saying there was “a robust regulatory system which provides a comprehensive regime for exploratory activities“. It also said there were “tough regulations in place to ensure on site safety, prevent water contamination, and mitigate seismic activity and air pollution”.

Amber Heard tweet

Tweet by Amber Heard on fracking ban

Activists have said the UK government’s measures were not sufficient to protect women.

The signatories to today’s letter argued that women’s rights were compromised because they said:

  • There was evidence that fracking was linked to higher rates of cancer and nervous, immune and cardiovascular problems in women
  • A study by Concerned Health Professionals of New York found that pregnant women living near active fracking operations in Pennsylvania had a 40% increased risk of giving birth prematurely and 30% had obstetrician-labelled ‘high-risk pregnancies
  • Fertility and menstrual problems in women could be caused from exposure to chemicals associated with fracking, including benzene, toluene and xylene (BTX chemicals).
  • Miscarriages and still births could be caused by the heavy metals found in fracking waste water.

Amber Heard said on Twitter:

“Only a comprehensive ban can protect women and human rights from the destructive impacts of fracking in the UK.”

181016 vivienne westwood and joe corre AnneThoday1

Dame Vivienne Westwood with her son, Joe Corre, at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, 16 October 2018. Photo: Anne Thoday

Vivienne Westwood said:

“We want to highlight the harm fracking causes pregnant women.”

Referring to the study by Concerned Health Professionals of New York, Dame Vivienne said:

“This is an example of the virulent, poisoning effect of fracking to all life and we therefore want to support Amber Heard and the group asking for CEDAW to demand that it stops.”

Wenonah Hauter, founder and executive director of Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe, said.

“We’ve experienced the negative impacts of fracking on rural women in the US. The UK Government still has the opportunity to prevent this and must ban fracking.”

The letter on fracking is among many expressions of concern submitted to the CEDAW meeting from the UK and it may not be considered. If it is, the issue could be included in a set of recommendations due to be released next month.

43 replies »

  1. “The UK Government replied in November 2018, saying there was “a robust regulatory system which provides a comprehensive regime for exploratory activities“. It also said there were “tough regulations in place to ensure on site safety, prevent water contamination, and mitigate seismic activity and air pollution”

    And yet by January 2019 Cuadrilla has asked the OGA to review all fracking regulations, is demanding that the seismic levels within the TLS be increased and that over 30 additional chemicals be added to the frack fluid mixture. Supporters will of course argue that all these measures are safe but the same was said in other parts of the world to the detriment of people. Earthquakes have grown in frequency and magnitude in those areas where they have occurred, such as Canada and the US. In each case they have increased in both frequency and magnitude. Even in Groningen, and yes I know this was conventional, the earthquakes initially were very small and those experts that raised concerns were ridiculed and ignored. Now Groningen is ruined. Furthermore experts in Canada and the US openly admit they are still studying the situation and don’t fully understand the problem. Also some studies have shown that earthquakes have been caused by the actual fracturing and not just by the re injection of waste water. What has happened to the recommendation to leave an 850m setback from faults in the U.K.? Or the concerns raised regarding former mining areas?

    What has happened to the government’s own report about how fracking will worsen air pollution? The report the government withheld from the public for two years and was only released when forced under Freedom of Information laws. And what about air pollution impacts caused by offsite activities such as HGV traffic? Are we certain this will be appropriately monitored?

    And then of course there is the argument that the chemicals used in fracking are non hazardous. But non hazardous chemicals can be and often are hazardous to humans. In very basic, lay terms EA classification in this context just means that if the chemicals used were to accidentally come into contact with groundwater they would not accumulate or cause permanent damage. Then there is the issue of the hazardous substances that flow back up the well. It is very convenient not to mention the cocktail of nasties that are liberated and flow back up the well.

    Some of the chemicals associated with fracking are known hormone disrupters, which apparently can cause harm in even small amounts.

    One cannot help question whether the UK’s so called gold standard regulations stand up to close scrutiny, when precautionary recommendations appear not to have been adopted. Yet the existing regulations may be changed and weakened to suit the industry.

  2. Strange level of irresponsible behaviour where large groups of women can be seen, almost on a daily basis, gathering within close proximity of PNR!!

    Can’t even agree amongst themselves.

  3. Actresses are quite remarkable people. I wonder if Amber Heard would also like to advise the government on the directions that it should take regarding the next research topics that might result in a cure for dementia

  4. Protect women in the UK? While the current status quo of energy leaves the women in the Middle East, Asia and North Africa at the mercy of oppressive regimes funded by oil and gas incomes? Change the status quo and make the world a better place for everyone.

  5. Strange, didn’t notice Martin, Judith, Tom, Eli, GBK et al commenting on today’s IGas Inquiry also published on DoD. Perhaps this was a shorter read and an softer target? Just saying.

    • Waffle – why would one want to comment on the enquiry – it’s totally boring – just a load of greens knit picking about irrelevancies.

    • Didn’t notice that many at Igas Inquiry, Waffle.

      Very boring, just repeating what has been said before.

      I may comment when it is established how many libraries have been sacrificed to achieve diddly squat.

  6. Waffle, I’ve not been on this site for a while tbh. Although this article is possibly one of the most mind numbing and politically incorrect I’ve come across so far.

    • Surprised to see you here since you admitted you sold all your AJL shares Peeny.

      If you find it mind-numbing I’m sure there must be other websites you could get much more enjoyment from (but not Hot Copper obviously as they won’t let Bohara14 misbehave on there will they?)

      • Surprised to see you here, reaction. Thought you would be too busy trying to flog the 3 litre diesel before you are “excommunicated”.

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