Health Minister looking into oil and gas review

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The B.C. Ministry of Health Services has responded to requests for an inquiry into the oil and gas activities in the province.

In a statement, Health Minister Mike de Jong says, “We agree that a review of the possible health effects of this project is a reasonable request and are aware that considerable work around this topic already exists. We are currently working on a plan around the scope and nature of this review.”

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The Minister’s response comes just days after several environmental groups called for a public inquiry into the environmental and health implications of the shale gas industry.

Furthermore, in January, the Peace Environment and Safety Trustees had called for an inquiry into whether oil and gas companies were properly protecting the public from chemical emissions. They had also previously called for an inquiry into the 2009 sour gas leak at an Encana facility.

Minister de Jong had also heard residents’ concerns about the oil and gas industry at the first town hall held in Fort St. John last month, says Stephen May, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

May says that, right now, the process is still in the planning stages, determining what needs to be looked at and is reviewing past studies. He says the ministry has not even determined what form the process will take; whether it will be a public inquiry, review or other form. However, he says that the ministry plans to keep the process as open and transparent as possible, but it is dependent on time and financial resources.

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