PROTESTERS rallied against coal seam gas drilling on the footbridge of the Grafton Bridge on Saturday morning to illustrate the risk they say the industry places on the Clarence River.
Speaking for the Clarence Valley Alliance Against CSG, Seanine Cooper said the risk to human health was well documented.
She pointed to a recent European Union report which identified that the release of substances to the air during the extraction processes could have an adverse effect on respiratory health.
This was considered to pose a potentially significant risk, she said.
"In Queensland, the state's medical association has identified serious health problems among the community surrounding Chinchilla that are consistent with exposure to emissions associated with coal seam gas mining and has asked the government to investigate," Ms Cooper said.
The protest action followed a silent protest on Friday by the newly formed Clarence Valley "loop'' of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas outside the Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis's office in Grafton.
"We plan to continue to undertake these actions until the Government takes notice of the people's demands," said Clarence Environment Centre spokesman John Edwards.
Mr Edwards said the State Government was ignoring the overwhelming evidence the majority of NSW residents were totally opposed to unconventional gas mining, and there was an appalling knowledge vacuum within the government itself relating to the potential dangers.
"The EU report also makes a very pertinent point that worldwide there is an absence of systematic baseline monitoring, and also a lack of data on well failure and incident rates, exposing an urgent need for further research on a number of possible effects including long term ones," he said.
Managing Director and CEO Peter Henderson said there was no evidence to support health concerns associated with CSG activities - " in fact quite the reverse".
"Natural gas has been sourced from coal seams in Australia for decades, without any adverse health impacts. Thousands of people work directly in the CSG industry and despite daily exposure to CSG operations display no adverse impacts on health. Millions of Australians have been and continue to be exposed to natural gas on a daily basis through the gas that they use when cooking, with no adverse health impacts.
"The NSW Government has reviewed the industry extensively over the past 18 months and now fully supports the industry, giving it the green light. It has also announced new regulations to provide the community with increased confidence in the industry.
"Last year the Queensland government tested more than 2700 wells, including all those near Tara. Gas and air sampling confirmed insignificant or no trace of volatile organic compounds or heavy metals.
"There is absolutely no evidence to support the claims being made by some Tara residents. To quote Lawrence Springborg, Minister for Health in Queensland from July 2012:
"All we can find... are presentations from two people who claim to be affected by coal seam gas," said Health Minister Lawrence Springborg. "At the moment, all I've got are suggestions and anecdotes".
"There are numerous studies available to show that CSG will have no impact on groundwater, including recent reports by the Queensland Water Commission and the NSW Namoi Water Catchment Study.
"CSG uses proven technology ... and currently produces 38% of the Eastern Australian gas demand, without an incident of groundwater contamination or an adverse health effect."
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.