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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Government misstep on fracking

All the media are reporting this morning that Government Ministers are to give the green light to further drilling for natural shale gas using the controversial fracking method despite identifying specific risks associated with the procedure.

The Telegraph tells us that a report by an independent panel commissioned by the government confirmed that an operation by Cuadrilla, an energy company, was responsible for two tremors last spring.

It backed up an inquiry by Cuadrilla late last year, after which the company admitted culpability for the small earthquakes near Blackpool, which measured 2.3 and 1.5 on the "local magnitude" system under which three is classed as "moderate".

Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals at very high pressures into beds of shale to release the reserves of natural gas which are stored within.

The paper says that the report provides some of the first evidence that fracking can trigger earthquakes:

'experts said there was a "very low" chance that it could spark one large enough to cause any significant damage.

It recommended that fracking should be allowed in Britain, but only under a new set of safety provisions that would be among the most restrictive in the world.

These would include the installation of sensitive monitoring systems providing real-time information about the location and magnitude of any minor tremors, each of which raises the chance of a larger quake following imminently.

Under a proposed "traffic light" control system, a "red light" would be triggered by any tremor measuring 0.5 local magnitude or higher, meaning fracking should stop and safety procedures such as allowing water to flow back to the surface should be carried out.'

So it is OK to cause earthquakes providing that they are not too large? Personally, I think this is a mistake and that we are blundering into a potential minefield. I agree with campaigners who want a full scientific assessment of all the environmental impacts of fracking, and who say that there should be no more fracking until that has been carried out.

It seems to me that commercial considerations are being allowed to override safety concerns and that we do not as yet fully understand the consequences of fracking activity.
when it comes to fracking, causing earthquakes is the least of its problems.
I don't think Swansea Bay will be first of the hit list of places where Fracking will occure, the first place is surely going to be St John's Colliery Site in Maesteg West Ward...

Planning permission was granted without a single objection back in April 2011 for test drilling at this site; St John's was known for being a "gassy pit".

.....I think we should also remember who issued those licences to Frack.
"... despite identifying specific risks associated with the procedure"

This is not a persuasive argument to stop exploiting natural shale gas.

There are ALWAYS specific risks associated with EVERY energy extraction process per se.

The petrol in your car is VERY DANGEROUS, but we seek to manage and mitigate the risks. It is a learning process sure, and many cars have caught fire and there have been many deaths from car accidents.

Currently, we can’t live in a world without using hydrocarbons.

We couldn’t possibly support our current population without extracting and utilizing hydrocarbons.

There would be, inter alia, mass starvation.

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