Local MP Tessa Munt has welcomed the Government’s invitation for local people to comment on the earthquake risks from ‘fracking’, the process of hydraulic fracturing for Shale Gas, by 25th May 2012.
Last week, the Department of Energy and Climate Change issued its first independent expert report on last April and May’s seismic tremors near Blackpool, which blamed the process of ‘fracking’, and made recommendations on how to mitigate the risks of earthquakes from ‘fracking’.
Commenting on the report, Tessa noted “this study does not consider the effects of over 500 chemicals pumped deeply underground during this controversial process. The potential damage to our water supply, or land and air contamination needs detailed investigation. ‘Fracking’ uses a huge amount of water during the operation to extract Shale Gas, and we should consider carefully the national shortage of water before embarking on such a water dependent process. The Mendips are the source of much of our water and I welcome the fact that the Royal Society, and the Royal Academy of Engineering are reviewing the geological and environmental risks of ‘fracking’.”
The report recommends effective monitoring and more stringent controls which would stop further ‘fracking’ in the event of earth tremors, but Tessa is writing again to the Minister about the ability of the Environment Agency and the Health & Safety Executive to monitor safety when both are subject to budget restrictions and staff cutbacks. She will also raise questions about:
- the traffic movements of lorries delivering equipment, chemicals, fresh water and ‘post-fracking’ water to and from the well sites on already crowded local roads
- the proposed processing and storage locations for contaminated ‘post-fracking’ water
- the effect on tourism and agriculture of ‘fracking’ operations in the Mendip Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Tessa is keen to point out that no application for ‘fracking’ has yet been made to the local council.
Tessa said: “I welcome this report but there are so many other major and more important issues that need to be considered before we can safely give this form of energy extraction the green light. There is no clear idea of how much gas is economically available and some in the industry are saying that the only way to find out is to roll out drilling across the country. This gambling with the environment is not acceptable.”
24th April 2012
Notes for editors:
- The main local campaign group is ‘Frack Free Somerset’ and their website is http://www.frackfreesomerset.org and by email email@example.com (please note this website is still being developed)
- Comments on The Department of Energy and Climate Change independent expert report and its recommendations are invited. See following link and below: http://og.decc.gov.uk/en/olgs/cms/explorationpro/onshore/cuadrilla_decc/cuadrilla_decc.aspx
An effective monitoring system and a traffic light control regime are among measures recommended by the report, which agrees with a series of studies commissioned by Cuadrilla that minor earthquakes detected in the area of the company’s Preese Hall operations near Blackpool in April and May last year were caused by fracking.
The report recommends the following measures to mitigate the risk of any damaging seismic activity from future shale gas operations in the Bowland Basin:
· That the hydraulic fracturing procedure should include a smaller pre-injection and monitoring period.
· That an effective monitoring system to provide near real-time locations and magnitudes of any seismic events should be part of any future hydraulic fracturing operations.
· That future fracking operations for shale gas should be subject to a “traffic light” control regime, similar to that recommended by Cuadrilla’s consultants. A red light at tremors levels of magnitude of 0.5 or above would halt fracking and initiate remedial action taken. (This threshold is lower than the magnitude 1.7 proposed by Cuadrilla’s report). Unusual seismic activity, even at lower levels, should be carefully assessed before operations proceed.
· For any future operations elsewhere in the UK the review recommends suitable actions to assess the seismic risk before any operations take place.
Before Ministers make any decision about resuming fracking at Preese Hall, the Department would welcome views on the report, either from experts or the public. The invitation for comment runs for six weeks from today, until 25 May. All comments received will be considered and taken into account before any decision is taken on further fracking for shale gas.