25 February 2019
Having triggered seismic tremors by fracking at Preston New Road, Lancashire, in October and November 2018 (see our article here), Cuadrilla wanted the Government to change the rules: their CEO Francis Egan said that the limit of 0.5ML (local magnitude) at which tremors force fracking to be paused for at least 18 hours was unworkable. He wanted the regulations to be reviewed and suggested raising the limit to 2.0 magnitude. In effect, he was asking to make fracking more possible by making it less safe. The Government’s Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy thankfully declined, stating that they “had no plans” to review the system.
But now it seems Cuadrilla are trying a new trick: they want to make it easier to fracture the shale rock by changing the chemical composition of the fracking fluid they are using.
The precise composition of the fracking fluid is one of the conditions which were stipluated in the environmental permit which Cuadrilla have already successfully amended on no fewer than EIGHT previous occasions. Nevertheless, on the 20th February they made a formal application to the Environment Agency to make quite radical changes to their fracking fluids and also to their methodology by being allowed to frack each well multiple times. Remember, most of this fracking fluid is returned to the surface with the shale gas for “safe” disposal. The introduction of yet more toxic substances into this fluid greatly exacerbates the risks involved. You can read the Drill Or Drop report here.
It was bad enough that Cuadrilla tried to strong-arm the Government into relaxing the safety regulations on seismic activity for their benefit, but this latest move is even more insidious, involving as it does the introduction of even more toxic chemicals into the process, thus increasing the danger should any leaks occur at any stage.
CADAF strongly urges the Environment Agency to take seriously its responsibility to the public as well as to the environment by rejecting this application to change the rules yet again.
It’s time for them to say “enough is enough”.