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Dr. Eilish Cleary and the Sackville Memorial Hospital medical staff speak out about the dangers of fracking

On July 9th 2013, the New Brunswick branch of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI) announced the recipient of its national Environmental Health Review (EHR) award, given out every year to a person or organization that made a valuable contribution to the field of public health. On July 11th 2013, CIPHI presented the EHR award to Dr. Eilish Cleary and the New Brunswick Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (NB OCMOH). Dr. Cleary was selected for her leadership in producing the report, “Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick.”

Gary O’Toole, National President of CIPHI stated “Dr. Cleary has demonstrated exceptional leadership in protecting the health of New Brunswickers and this award recognizes the work of her office in bringing public attention to the potential health effects of shale gas exploration.” The 82-page report, released in the fall of 2012, highlights a broad spectrum of risks associated with water and air pollution, noise, and vibrations that are posed by shale gas development. She calls on the Government of New Brunswick to implement baseline population health impact assessments so that ongoing monitoring of the population could quickly detect any negative health impacts caused by shale gas hydro-fracking.

The concerns outlined in Dr. Cleary’s report are echoed by medical staff at the Sackville Memorial Hospital in New Brunswick in a letter they sent to Premier David Alward on June 10, 2013. Along with the umbrella association, The New Brunswick College of Family Physicians, the group of doctors voice grave concerns that the provincial government is pushing shale gas development forward without meaningful attention to health risks or the precautions Dr. Cleary recommends in her comprehensive report.

The medical staff at Sackville Memorial Hospital support New Brunswick College of Family Physicians’ call for a 10-year moratorium on all shale gas exploration and development in the province. “There is insufficient knowledge to produce evidence-based regulations for safety of workers or populations living in areas of this industry. At the same time, reports of potential health problems continue to emerge.”

The Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians actively organizes to achieve a moratorium on shale gas development. Members of the chapter have supported the shale gas blockade at Elsipogtog, rallied outside the constituency office of Energy Minister Craig Leonard and presented a 400-name petition seeking a town hall meeting in Fredericton amongst other creative actions.