Sunday, 15 January 2012

BGS: Contamination "extremely unlikely"

Next in the series of reports by BBC North West...

The British Geological Survey say that it is 'extremely unlikely' that contamination can occur? As John Bailey of CROP comments - 'extremely unlikely' is just not good enough. Once contaminated, even by accident, polluted aquifers are non recoverable.

Here is the response from Frack Off in a recent email;

The experience of fracking the United States clearly shows that it causes a huge range of local environmental issues, in addition to its severe effects on the climate system (1) The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found benzene contamination in groundwater near fracked wells (2) A Duke University study has also found methane contamination of groundwater (3) Dr Paul Hetzler a ex-employee of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has been recently quoted as saying 'Hydraulic fracturing will contaminate New York's aquifers. If you were looking for a way to poison the drinking water supply, here in the north-east you couldn't find a more chillingly effective and thorough method of doing so than with hydraulic fracturing.' (4) This not unexpected since a Schlumberger study shows that most wells will eventually start leaking even without fracking (5) Shale Gas brings many more wells and intensive fracking, where a 10-well frac-pad is equivalent to setting off a 4.4 kiloton nuclear bomb underground (6) Is it any wonder that fracking has been linked to a string of magnitude 4 and greater earthquakes in the US over the last year? (7) Due to the very minimal onshore petroleum exploration that has happened in the UK there is almost no regulation at all, unlike some US states with long experience of petroleum exploration where they at least they have some limitations on drilling near houses and water sources etc (8)

1 Shale gas: a provisional assessment of climate change and environmental impacts

2 Investigation of ground water contamination near Pavillion, Wyoming

3 Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing

4 Fracking will poison New York's drinking water, critics warn

5 From mud to cement -- building gas wells

6 If fracking has been happening since 1947 what is there to worry about?

7 Ohio Fracking: Earthquakes Could Incite Policy Shift

8 Worst Frackng Regulation in Unities States

From the BBC report "Geologists say its important methane and seismic activity are monitored effectively" - yet the following article suggests that is not what is happening!

There is also confusion about how the Caudrilla operation will be overseen. Donald Dobson, HSE's head of discipline, well engineering, says in a letter to former oil and gas engineer Mike Hill, that it is financially impossible to check each well.

"Verification of an individual well is not the role of the HSE. The resource implications would be immense."

There is also disagreement between officials at the EA over how many times Cuadrilla has been visited randomly. In one letter, Mark Goucher, an EA customer services operator, says that all of its eight sampling visits "have been unannounced". But Stuart Mcdonald of the agency says. "We have made one unannounced out of eight sampling visits." By contrast, Cuadrilla chief executive Mark Miller says: "The EA makes random visits two to three times each month."

Equally, the HSE considers fracking to be low-risk and has only made one site visit. "To date, HSE has conducted one site inspection of Cuadrilla's UK operations. We do not generally make unannounced site visits," says Dobson."

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