Fracking could carry unforeseen risks as thalidomide and asbestos did, says report produced by UK's Chief Scientist

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Historic innovations that have been adopted too hastily with grave unforeseen impacts provide cautionary examples for potential side effects of fracking, says report produced by government’s chief scientist Mark Walport

Adam Vaughan, The Guardian

Fracking could carry unforeseen risks in the way that thalidomide, tobacco and asbestos did, warns a report produced by the [UK] government’s chief scientific adviser.


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A chapter in the flagship annual report produced by the UK’s chief scientist, Mark Walport, argues that history holds many examples of innovations that were adopted hastily and later had serious negative environmental and health impacts. The chapter is written by Prof Andrew Stirling of the University of Sussex.

 The controversial technique, which involves pumping chemicals, sand and water at high pressure underground to fracture shale rock and release the gas within, has been strongly backed by the government with David Cameron saying the UK is “going all out for shale”.

But environmentalists fear that fracking could contaminate water supplies, bring heavy lorry traffic to rural areas, displace investment in renewable energy and accelerate global warming.

The chapter in the report produced by the chief scientific adviser appears to echo those fears.

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