Save The Ribble

A blog dedicated to preserving the beauty and delicate ecosystem of the River Ribble, and opposing the Riverworks 'vision' to build a barrage on our River and develop on our riverbanks, floodplains and green spaces, causing damage to wildlife and the environment and increasing the risk of flooding to our homes. Save the Ribble Campaign is not responsible for the content of external blogs or websites which link here.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Shale Gas Drilling - pursued with indecent haste and a Russian Roulette mentality

A large number of Lancashire residents and numerous scientists are extremely concerned about the deep-rock Gas Drilling company Cuadrilla's extraction operations which are about to start at sites at Weeton, Singleton, and Westby, near Kirkham and Blackpool.

There are serious and significant concerns about the potential safety of the process, where rock thousands of feet below Lancashire will be fractured using chemicals to release the gas stored in the rocks, as the process causes the rock to be polluted and there is a risk of contamination of the groundwater - and therefore our drinking water.

It is, of course, also the case that these chemicals could find their way into the Ribble's waters and pose a threat to its delicate ecosystem.

The rock in which the gas is stored stretches across a large area of Lancashire along the Ribble valley catchment, from Pendle Hill through to the Irish Sea, and concerns about the so-called "fracking" extraction process are being raised by reputable scientists world-wide, and we will be examining the research and charting the Lancashire and world-wide campaigns against the Gas Drilling over the coming weeks.

A report written by Professor Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre in Manchester has led The Co-operative Financial Services' Chief Executive Neville Richardson to call for "a moratorium on any further exploitation of shale gas which will allow the wider environmental concerns to be fully exposed and addressed."

Research around the globe is currently forcing a ban on the process in New York State and is raising concerns in other states of the US, as well as in other countries across the world from Canada to South Africa.

Here in Lancashire, as the Lancashire Evening Post report, 'the Blackpool and Fylde Green Party claims the process causes pollution and could be dangerous.

Philip Mitchell, chairman of the party, said: “We demand that a ban is placed on all UK shale gas and coal bed methane industry activity, including testing sites.

“This technology has been used at a site of an important groundwater aquifer and there are over 80 further applications which have been applied for around the UK.

“Aquifers are a natural source of our drinking water, and there is risk of catastrophic harm to water resources, communities and the environment from this industry, which may roll out across Lancashire and the rest of the UK.”

Concerns have been fuelled by US documentary Gasland, which shows flames shooting from taps in areas where hydro fracking has taken place.

Some residents in areas where drilling for shale gas is taking place say they have become ill because of pollution by gas and chemicals, according to the documentary.'

Philip Mitchell has tabled a Parliamentary Memorandum which is a well-researched and illuminating assessment of the risks this process has, and he is calling for a serious re-think of the scheme before the damage is done.

Whilst the Government have made statements to the effect that:
- 'gas extraction is subject to thorough checks' (LEP)

Mark Miller, Cuadrilla chief executive, has said on the one hand that:
- the "solid rock between [the aquifer at Preese Hall Farm, Weeton, Blackpool] and where the fracking takes place would prevent the water mix contaminating the aquifer"
-whilst admitting on the other that "You never have control. Fractures will always go into the path of least resistance."

In other words, they're keeping their fingers crossed for us. Well, that's alright then.

See The Guardian article here for more details

Philip Mitchell's Parliamentary Memorandum makes for interesting reading and can be found in full here

We will be reproducing extracts from it on the STR website soon, and keeping you informed about the campaign as it progresses.


At 12:07 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no ground water drinker aquifer below the Ribble in area of drilling. As stated by the british geological survey. No drinking water is extracted in this area, it would be hard to pollute what does not exist. I think there are some very spurious facts in this article, read with care.

At 3:42 pm, Blogger Colin said...

See the following related news story today:

At 4:19 pm, Blogger Reigh Belisama said...

hi Anonymous above,

Thanks for getting in touch. Unfortunately at the Preese Hall Farm site, an aquifer in fact lies 200-400 metres below the surface, and as such is at risk of contamination.

We of course appreciate that the company involved in the process will do their best to try to prevent any contamination taking place, and are not trying to be alarmist about this process, but have looked into the process and its possible effects, and make sure we show our research and sources.

The Chief Exec of Cuadrilla (who are drilling at the site) has said:
"solid rock between [the above mentioned aquifer] and where the fracking takes place would prevent the water mix contaminating the aquifer," and also said that, based on geological seismic surveys, the company could predict what happens to the fractured gas and waste water mix but he admitted:
"You never have control. Fractures will always go into the path of least resistance."

See the Guardian

At 4:22 pm, Blogger Reigh Belisama said...

- and thanks for the extra info Colin!


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