We have submitted quantifiable, reputable and respected evidence which clearly shows harmful environmental impacts, including water contamination, air, noise and light pollution, industrialisation of the countryside and earthquakes. It is damaging to human and animal health, worsens climate change, uses massive volumes of water, increases HGV road traffic and reduces property values. It will not reduce the price of gas or provide local jobs, it isn’t the answer to our energy security and would be disingenuous to call it a cleaner fuel as fugitive methane is 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas over 20 years compared to carbon dioxide.
One of the main concerns about the process is water contamination, not surprising given that the British Geological survey shows how many of the shale gas reserves lie under our aquifers. There are several ways in which contamination can and does happen – through well failure, accidents, leaks or spills, either from fracking fluid or from the gas itself. Fracking fluid contains a cocktail of proven hazardous chemicals, and the waste water returned to the surface is a combination of both the water, chemicals, heavy metals and what the European Union classify as radioactive waste. There will be huge volumes of waste water which will need to be treated. There are currently no specialist water treatment plants who could safely deal with full scale production in the UK and would be too prohibitively expensive and complicated to remove many of the contaminants such as radon. It might be worth noting that while 40-60% of the fracking fluid is brought back up to the surface the rest remains underground.
Industry accepted figures on well failure stand at 7% of them failing immediately and Schlumberger, the world’s biggest fracking company, cites failure rates of 60 percent over a 30-year span. All wells will leak eventually. Industry reports on well failure show that it is impossible to prevent it happening. Doesn’t this mean that some water contamination is not just possible, but in fact inevitable?
Fracking companies insist that the risk of water contamination is low, but no level of risk to our aquifers is acceptable. Water is our most precious commodity, far more precious than gas and we cannot afford to get it wrong. You cannot de-contaminate an aquifer. Gas companies continually deny that fracking has caused water contamination, but this is simply not true – there are numerous studies which we have submitted as evidence which show widespread poisoning. Fracking company Cuadrilla has been hauled up by the Advertising Standards Authority for making this false claim. Six years into a natural gas boom, Pennsylvania has for the first time, released details of 248 cases in which companies were found by state regulators to have contaminated private drinking wells.
Gas companies cannot keep denying that fracking affects human and animal health – there is overwhelming evidence from the US and Australia that it does. As this unconventional extraction method has pushed into more densely populated areas of the States, numerous studies such as the one by Bamberger and Oswald, have begun to show that living near a well is extremely detrimental to human and animal health. Clusters of ill health have been found around fracking sites including chronic, acute and even fatal conditions – from nosebleeds, neurological disorders and breathing problems to breast cancer. Breast Cancer UK have called for an immediate moratorium. Given that the UK is considerably more densely populated than either the US or Australia, the health impacts will surely be far more pronounced. Won’t this put undue pressure on our already struggling National Health Service? These were views echoed by a report made by the British Medical Journal. In parts of Australia they have declared that drilling should not be undertaken within a mile of a property, but in England this would be virtually impossible if full-scale production were to take place.
Unlike conventional gas exploration, fracking shale requires a huge number of wells to make it commercially viable and would see the British countryside littered with thousands of rigs, supported by connecting pipelines, compressors and service roads. If the energy companies undertaking unconventional gas extraction are accurate and truthful in their claims to investors and they delivered the quantities of gas they promise it would mean that the UK would be covered in around 25,000 rigs. The Advertising Standards Authority upheld a claim against Cuadrilla for its misleading suggestion that there were no material differences between fracking in one of its conventional wells and fracking for shale gas.
Shale gas production is known to be very water intensive. Estimates for the volume of water required from start to finish of the fracking operation vary significantly due to lack of reliable data and differences in depth and geology of shale plays. According to the recent Tyndall Centre report “the entire multi-stage fracturing operation for a single well requires around 2.5 million – 8 million gallons of water” this would include 1000 – 2500 tonnes of chemicals per well, per frack. According to the Environment “there are considerable pressures on water resources throughout England and Wales”.
The EU study found cumulative overall risk to the environment and health from releases to air and from traffic associated with fracking operations to be high. The UK is already facing potential legal proceedings from the EU as a result of its failure to improve air quality as at least 29,000 UK deaths are caused by air pollution each year. Fracking is likely to exacerbate this problem.
When profit is at stake corners will always be cut and rules flouted. However, not only can this industry not be sufficiently regulated, but having myself listened to presentations by representatives from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive, I can assure you that our regulatory system is not even close to gold standard and goes nowhere near protecting our communities. It is my belief that Fracking cannot be carried out safely and Cuadrilla have been in trouble again with the Advertising Standards Authority for falsely claiming that they use proven safe technologies. There is no such thing as proven safe fracking technology.
How many high pressure wells has your well design and construction manager Kris Bone constructed in the UK? Answer – Zero
Why do you feel you can flaut planning laws by drilling to double the depth allowed for shale when the British Geological Survey have said the council should be looking at enforcement action. Do you plan to repeat to same at the Ellesmere Port site?
Did you have planning permissions to frack your Doe Green Well as after an FOI request to Warrington Council it would appear you didn’t.