Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
28 May 2013
28 May 2013
Rural residences, homes and agricultural land remain at severe risk from the rapid expansion of coal seam gas (CSG) mining says Sr Jan Barnett of the Josephite Justice Office in Canberra.
A ministry of the Sisters of St Joseph, the Justice Office has been an outspoken critic of licenses being issued without consultation or sufficient scientific research into the possible adverse effects of CSG exploration and mining on the health of individuals, on livestock or on the fertile food growing land such as the Liverpool Plains.
Sr Jan says the Office is also extremely concerned there are no protections or shields in place for important water catchment and environmentally sensitive areas.
"None of these issues have been addressed in the NSW Government's amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy," she says adding that in the Justice Office's recent detailed submission on the proposed amendments, the Sisters have called for the politicians to put the right of individuals and communities to live in a safe environment ahead of all other considerations.
In Toowoomba today, the Bishop of Toowoomba, the Most Rev Robert McGuckin issued a similar call to the Queensland Government insisting that the health and wellbeing of residents must come first.
In making the announcement this morning, the Bishop's major concern was the health and welfare of residents of Tara where adults and in particular, children are suffering multiple medical conditions which a number of residents, including their doctors, believe is the result of chemical exposure from the CSG mining activity.
At a recent meeting of the Toowoomba Diocesan Social Justice Commission, Bishop McGuckin heard accounts from local Tara residents of physical and mental health conditions that have emerged since CSG began operating in the area. Most distressing he said, were the reports of local children, including photographs, showing them suffering from skin rashes and nose bleeds.
"Queensland Health knows about this issue but more needs to be done to allay the understandable anxieties of the people being affected," he said, describing Tara as one of the most disadvantaged communities in the Western Downs region.
"We support the recent call by the Australian Medical Association for governments to strengthen the assessment and monitoring of health impacts of CSG developments in Australia," he said.
He also urged all levels of government and the resource companies to make sure the voices of those in Tara and other affected areas be heard and their concerns taken seriously…..