Slingshot – coming to a field near you?

466px-Slingshot_(weapon)

The Slingsby Village website’s Slingshot feature gives folk a shared platform to express their concerns on the topics of the day. Contributions can be published here anonymously under the Slingshot byline.

Coming soon to a field near you … if you don’t act NOW

Until a couple of years ago the word “fracking” didn’t mean much to me.  I had vaguely heard of protests in America about fracking and the environmental damage it caused, but didn’t realise how close to home it could come.  I am much wiser now!

A company called Third Energy has submitted an application to open a fracking site at Kirby Misperton (700 metres from the village and close to Flamingo Land).  The threat to this peaceful community, the lives and livelihoods of farmers and other residents, as well as to the lucrative tourist trade, is very real.  And it is only the start: Third Energy have said they are planning 19 well sites across Ryedale, with between 10 and 50 wells per site.  So there could soon be up to 950 fracking wells in Ryedale.  Hardly bears thinking about, does it?

I am no scientist but I have learnt that fracking is a fairly new technique for extracting shale gas from underground rock.  A well is drilled deep into the rock and a mixture of water, sand and toxic chemicals is then pumped into the well at high pressure in order to create cracks in the shale, allowing the gas to escape.  The gas is drawn back up the well to the surface and large quantities of contaminated waste water also return to the surface.  It is a major industrial process with round the clock working: constant lighting, noise and HGV movements.  Air, water and noise pollution, as well as health problems, have been reported in America.  Since the wells are drilled horizontally once the vertical shaft is drilled, the location of actual fracking can be a good distance from the well head.  Vibrations can therefore be felt over a wide area, and there have been earthquakes in Lancashire near the only fracking site in the UK.

A report by the Government’s DEFRA department (initially kept secret and only published after a Freedom of Information request) recognised that the contamination of soil, surface and groundwater is a major concern in fracking.  It warns that the leakage of waste fluids could affect human health through polluted water or the consumption of contaminated agricultural products, as happened in the USA.  Even if contaminated surface water does not directly affect drinking water supplies, fracking can affect human health indirectly through contaminated wildlife, livestock, or agricultural products.  The report also estimates that house prices in a fracking area are likely to fall by up to 7% and that properties within 1.5 miles of a site could face additional insurance costs.

Despite the advice of its own experts, the Government seems hell-bent on developing this industry whatever the environmental and health consequences.  It has recently offered licences to fracking companies that cover large areas of North Yorkshire, including the North York Moors National Park (reneging on an earlier commitment to exclude national parks) and most of Ryedale.  To make matters worse, the Government has said it will make decisions on fracking applications if local councils do not do so within 16 weeks – it’s not difficult to guess which way those decisions will go!

What can we do about it?  The immediate priority is to object to the Kirby Misperton application.  This can be done through the North Yorkshire County Council website (www.northyorks.gov.uk) or by email to [email protected] or by writing to Planning Services, County Hall, Racecourse Lane, Northallerton DL7 8AH.  The reference number of the application is NY/2015/0233/ENV.  The deadline for comments is 14 October 2015.

In addition, you could write to our MP (Kevin Hollinrake, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA), our County Councillor (Cllr Clare Wood, North Yorkshire County Council, County Hall, Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8AH) and our District Councillor (Cllr Robert Wainwright, Ryedale District Council, Ryedale House, Malton YO17 7HH).

Please help stop this threat to our beautiful area.

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If you have something that you’d like to share with others, perhaps something you’ve been dying to get off your chest – especially if it concerns Slingsby and its residents – then you can have it published here under the Slingshot byline.

Send your contribution to us either by e-mail at [email protected] or put in an envelope and leave it with Tony at the Village Shop. Please remember to include your name, address and telephone number, in case we need to contact you, though these details will NOT be published (your contribution will be anonymous). Finally, please be aware that the Slingsby Website editors will have the freedom to decide whether or not to publish your contribution.

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  17 comments for “Slingshot – coming to a field near you?

  1. Joe Public
    15th Sep 2015 at 2:07 pm

    “A well is drilled deep into the rock and a mixture of water, sand and toxic chemicals ….”

    You reduce your credibility by making statements designed to scaremonger.

    The DECC publication “Fracking UK shale: water” describes the allowable chemicals.

    The only company which has hydraulically fractured for shale gas in the UK, Cuadrilla, published the chemicals which were approved for its operations:
     polyacrylamide friction reducers (0.075%), commonly used in cosmetics and facial creams, suspended in a hydrocarbon carrier
     hydrochloric acid (0.125%), frequently found in swimming pools and used in developing drinking water wells
     biocide (0.005%), used on rare occasions when the water provided from the local supplier used in the hydraulic fracturing needs to be further purified

    Remember that far-more dangerous and toxic chemicals are found in virtually all household kitchens and toilets. Unlike Fracking sites, small children live in houses storing those chemicals.

  2. scott free
    13th Sep 2015 at 11:13 pm

    Sounds to me the ‘forgery lot’ from third energy have found this site. posting from Lancashire as well.

  3. Andy
    13th Sep 2015 at 11:20 am

    I think it is a great shame that people forget about climate change in all these discussions. We owe it to future generations not to bring on stream new sources of fossil fuels. There are sufficient fossil fuels available now to bridge us to a cleaner energy mix. There is no need for fracking – yes we will have to continue importing gas (and no not from Russia a tiny, tiny proportion comes from Russia) but the vast majority of countries in Europe and the world import gas and oil. Many countries have operated successfully on imports – having never produced any or significant amounts of hydrocarbon energy resources.

    • Garry
      13th Sep 2015 at 1:43 pm

      Hi Andy. No one is forgetting climate change. Importing has a higher total emissions footprint than doing it ourselves. As you say, we are definitely going to use it. If we import it then we do more climate damage than we need to. We also lose the ability to regulate the wells ourselves, so importing means we do not control fugitive emissions etc – again further losing an opportunity to reduce our climate impact. Lastly we would be exporting jobs and taxes with which to employ teachers, doctors etc and we would also be reducing our ability to compete with other countries because our energy price would be fixed to whatever other countries sell to us at.

      Your argument works for everything else too. Why build a car factory when it is better for the environment to not build another on the planet and just import from one in China? Well, we can look after our own car manufacturing footprint if we do it at home and regulate it properly, but it also employs people, which has very significant benefits for the country.

  4. Helen Hart
    11th Sep 2015 at 11:25 pm

    I find Garry and Neil’s replies to be disingenuous. Garry tells us toxicity depends on quantity and that only 1% of the liquid used are chemicals he later goes on to say “Water can be toxic to the body if drunk in large enough quantities. Toxicity is not just about the name of the chemical, it is about the dose.” Hydraulic fracturing of a typical shale gas or oil well requires the use of around 5 to 7 million gallons of slickwater (a mixture of water, sand and chemicals) So that means about 50,000 to 70,000 gallons of chemicals so I agree Garry that is a heck of a big dose.
    Neil tells us “these chemicals can ALL be found in the average kitchen in either food stuffs or cleaning agents.”
    These area few of the chemicals used in Australian fracking:
    Sodium Persulfate – rashes/eczema,eye irritant.long term exposure affects lung function
    Ethylene Glycol – eyes, nose and throat irritant,respiratory toxicant, increased risks of spontaneous abortion
    Ethyoxylated 4-nonylphenol – persistant, bioaccumulative, endocrine disruptor. Very toxic to aquatic organisms.
    Garry states Every problem caused is down the the well itself – not the process of hydraulically fracturing the rock We who are concerned are just that concerned not stupid. It is irrelevant if the problems arise due to the actual fracking or the reinjection of the waste fluids after the gas has dried up. The hydraulic fracturing rarely causes earthquakes but the reinjection of the waste water does.
    Earthquakes in Oklahoma of a magnitude of 3.0 and greater went from 2 or 3 a year before fracking began to 258 in 2014.

    Please do not take anyones word for this research it for yourself.

    • 12th Sep 2015 at 9:50 am

      A friend who is a geophysicist in Oklahoma stresses that tremors in Oklahoma are due to injection and not fracking. further their epicentre is a good 16000ft below surface whereas fracking takes place at 6000ft which belies fracking or injection being a cause. It helps to do research!

      • David
        13th Sep 2015 at 8:47 pm

        Interesting, Michael. So tremors are due to injection but there again tremors are not due to injection! Carry on with the valuable research!

        • Garry
          14th Sep 2015 at 10:07 am

          Hi David,
          You are misunderstanding Michael. He is a geologist and is talking in terms of geology and the overall stratigraphic setting for the injection and tectonic activity. To understand his comment you need to think like a geologist.

          Your state:
          ‘So tremors are due to injection but there again tremors are not due to injection! Carry on with the valuable research!’

          Firstly, that is a little sarcastic given that the misunderstanding is not Michael’s. When something in a science in which you are not trained doesn’t make sense to you ridiculing it is inevitably the wrong way to go about furthering ones own understanding of the world. Learning why it appears to not make sense is the better approach.

          The earthquakes in Oklahoma occur at the crystalline basement intersection with the overlying sedimentary sequences of the Arbuckle Group (a group comprising sequences of sands, clays, limestone, dolomites etc). They also occur tens of miles and even years after injection well activity, yet they are known to correlate with the nearby injection well activity; the question was, how?

          Please read (which I spoken about below, but you must not have seen):
          Oklahoma’s recent earthquakes and saltwater disposal, F. Rall Walsh III* and Mark D. Zoback, Science Advances, 18 Jun 2015, Vol. 1, no. 5

          This will answer your questions. Basically there is fluid conduction from the injection wells down to the crystalline basement through the Arbuckle.

          Alternatively, Mark D. Zoback is Professor of Earth Sciences at Stanford University and conducted the research with his P.h.D researcher. While I imagine that your comment that he should ‘Carry on with [his] valuable research!’ might concern him I am sure he would help you with any problems you are having understanding the underlying geology.

          Meanwhile no less than the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has stated that injection-related quakes “should not be confused with hydrofracturing”. This is them directly attempting to educate people who misunderstand this subject, or are attempting to portray it incorrectly.

          Zoback’s research helps enormously in understanding an underlying trigger mechanism, but as always science is best served by increasing knowledge to the minimum amount necessary to fully explain an event. The USGS (United States Geological Survey) states that:
          “A combination of many factors is necessary for injection to induce felt earthquakes. These include the injection rate and total volume injected; the presence of faults that are large enough to produce felt earthquakes; stresses that are large enough to produce earthquakes; and the presence of pathways for the fluid pressure to travel from the injection point to faults.”
          This is of course the reason why although fluid injection is common across the entire state of Oklahoma and in similar volumes to the location we are talking about here there is not the same increase in seismic activity, i.e. in Southwestern, Western and North Eastern Oklahoma. Zoback has identified and modelled causation, but it is still only a single trigger – not the full trigger mechanism, which also requires as per the USGS comment.

          Of course, this entire comment is meant to, once again, reiterate the mistake being made – that fracking is not causing this and that it is due to fluid injection, and that since fluid injection is illegal in the UK it means that any earthquake activity will be extremely rare in the UK – as per the comments by the British Geological Survey as well as numerous UK academics. However, just because they will be extremely rare does not mean that they are not important. Nor does the fact that geological modelling of shale and injection volumes indicates that activity will always be low energy and not enough to cause damage, which accords with measured data from the hundreds of thousands of shale wells and over a million frack jobs in the US (meaning both modelling and measurement are in accord on this issue) the UK has still put in place regulation to limit seismic activity to 0.5 on the Richter scale, which is literally orders of magnitude below anything that can be felt on surface without very sensitive equipment, before operations are stopped and assessed. Nor need fracking be done blind. Microseismicity allows the microfracture network deep underground to be monitored in real time and if any faults that were not mapped by the detailed surface mapping intersected the operation can also be stopped.

    • Garry
      12th Sep 2015 at 11:54 am

      Helen,

      Sometimes this is a little like batting your head against a wall.

      1.
      Once again, toxicity is about dose and concentration, not about total quantity. If a chemical is toxic at 5% solution then if a solution contains 0.05% then the solution is not toxic. This is why we can drink water from a stream even though it is likely to contain small quantities of many natural, and toxic, chemicals. For example, air naturally contains around 0.02 to 4 ng/m3 of arsenic, whereas sea water contains around 1–2 µg/litre arsenic. Arsenic, as we all know, can be extremely toxic, but we are not all dying from arsenic poisoning by breathing the air. That is because, again, toxicity is relative to concentration and dose. If 7 million gallons of fluid had added to it 70,000 gallons of a fluid that itself contained 30% solution of chemical X making the 7 million gallons of fluid 0.003% chemical X whereas chemical X becomes toxic above 5% solution then it is easy to understand that the 7 million gallons of fluid is non toxic, even though it contains 70,000 gallons of a solution that itself is 30% chemical X. This is called DILUTION and your idea of how fluid additives work is not taking it into account. A theory of chemistry that does not include dilution is obviously not going to describe nature.

      2.
      I also notice that you are making another type of mistake. You have noted the total volume of chemicals in the total solution (in your example above 50,000, or 70,000 of either 5 million or 7 million gallons total volume), but you have simply added different chemicals together and noted the total volume and then used this rather than using the proper values for each individual chemical in the solution. You cannot do this as this is not how nature works. Toxicity remains individual for each chemical in the solution. If say chemical X becomes toxic at 5% and chemical X remains in solution at say 1% you cannot just add 4 other chemicals to that and arrive at 5% and declare the total solution now toxic because you have added all the values for each individual chemical together. It would make no difference if 50,000 gallons of 5 million were chemical additives – you must take each type individually. I.e. if that 50,000 was composed of 5 chemicals each totalling 10,000 gallons then you cannot just add them together, doing so would be in disagreement with Atomic Theory and pretty much all of modern physics.

      3.
      Science (logic actually) requires that for comparisons to be valid they must be like-for-like, otherwise it is comparing oranges with apples and any conclusion is invalid. That might not bother newspaper headline editors, but it bothers scientists and engineers. The UK has its own regulations and it is invalid to simply say that chemical X was used in Australia (or Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio etc). It must be shown that chemical X is a) allowed under UK regulation, b) planned to be used in the UK, and c) carries risks at the planned concentration.

      What chemicals can and cannot be used in the United Kingdom is regulated by the Environment Agency. Only non-hazardous chemicals are permitted, and a source–pathway–receptor model is utilised when considering risk. Therefore when talking about a chemical it must be expressed in terms of whether a pathway exists to a receptor (i.e. to a person) and whether the dosage of that chemical poses any risk at all given its concentration in the solution if that solution were encountered (and if that solution were encountered after chemical reactions along the pathway, i.e. Limestone, as calcium carbonate, CaCO3, is reactive with acid, which alters the solution and means that the receptor, i.e. a human, would not contact the solution in its original state, but encounter it post reaction, even if it was just poured over the surface of a limestone at surface – never mind if it was injected into one 2 miles underground. And even more so if it was raining and you accounted for dilution, which is why dilution cannot be ignored as per above). This is why simply naming chemicals does not work.

      Any hydraulic fracking is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment in which all chemicals used are assessed and only granted permission if they are non-hazardous. This reality is almost universally ignored by the UK anti fracking movement who very often give preference to stating what other countries use/have used in the past/didn’t once regulate for etc over what UK regulators actually allow for us in the UK. This, obviously, is not a true reflection of any hydraulic fracturing in the UK, and seems only done to serve an argument based on misrepresenting UK regulation to the benefit of those using this type of argument. There seems no logical need to say another country does something and ignore that we do not other than to make an argument of false equivalence.

      4.
      “We who are concerned are just that concerned not stupid. It is irrelevant if the problems arise due to the actual fracking or the reinjection of the waste fluids”
      Waste reinjection is illegal in the UK and will not be practiced in the UK shale gas industry. I see little point in being concerned about something that literally cannot happen. It is like worrying that Tescos might start selling enriched uranium. They cannot because it is illegal. There are literally a billion things to worry about that will not happen. A company could accidentally spill something, and regulations are put in place to try and ensure that does not happen, and to minimise any impact if it does. But no company can drill an injection well, setup all the equipment, and then inject waste without anyone noticing. The idea is quite preposterous and so being concerned about it is equally misplaced. You would be worrying just for the sake of worry itself – not because of any reality.

      5.
      “It is irrelevant if the problems arise due to the actual fracking”
      I thought this was an anti fracking movement? If fracking is irrelevant and the science showing the safety of fracking as a well completion technique is irrelevant then perhaps the movement needs to be renamed? If in fact it is not the fracking you are worried about but the drilling of wells in general then you should be honest about that as it means that the data about the drilling of wells in the UK is completely relevant (we have 2200, and I can name 40 drilled in the last 5 years) and all of this talk about hydraulic fracturing is really just a smoke screen.

      6.
      “Earthquakes in Oklahoma of a magnitude of 3.0 and greater went from 2 or 3 a year before fracking began to 258 in 2014. Please do not take anyones word for this research it for yourself.”
      This again seems to imply that this has anything to do with fracking, or by implication (since you are using it to argue against fracking in the UK) something to do with the UK. As I said above (including in the previous article where I actually referenced the paper, J. L. Rubinstein et al, published in July 2015 so hardly old – is the data you are using up to date?) this is not fracking and not relevant to the UK.

      Please let me work through your logic:
      Q: Earthquakes in Oklahoma of a magnitude of 3.0 and greater went from 2 or 3 a year before fracking began to 258 in 2014. Please do not take anyones word for this research it for yourself.

      Let me dissect.

      P1: So you have linked earthquakes in Oklahoma to fracking and claimed a causal relationship between fracking and an increase in earthquakes from 2-3 to 258 in 2014.
      P2: In Oklahoma two (relevant to this) processes occur, 1) Hydraulic Fracturing and, 2) Wastewater Injection. You imply a relationship with fracking.
      P3: If it is being caused by wastewater injection then wastewater injection is illegal in the UK and so the point would be an invalid argument.
      P4: This leaves only your claim, that it is fracking, relevant to the UK situation – therefore the only way for your point to remain valid is if it is fracking causing the earthquakes in Oklahoma.
      P5: The latest research regarding the Oklahoma Earthquakes, studying the relationship between them, fracking, wastewater injection, location/timing etc is:

      Oklahoma’s recent earthquakes and saltwater disposal, F. Rall Walsh III* and Mark D. Zoback, Science Advances, 18 Jun 2015, Vol. 1, no. 5
      Available (at time of writing 12/09/15 at

      So this was published just 12 weeks ago.

      Mark Zoback, Professor in Earth Sciences at Stanford University, states in the paper that (as per the Abstract):

      “Over the past 5 years, parts of Oklahoma have experienced marked increases in the number of small to moderate sized earthquakes. In three study areas that encompass the vast majority of the recent seismicity, we show that the increases in seismicity follow 5 to 10 fold increases in the rates of saltwater disposal. Adjacent areas where there has been relatively little saltwater disposal have had comparatively few recent earthquakes. In the areas of seismic activity, the saltwater disposal principally comes from “produced” water, saline pore water that is co-produced with oil and then injected into deeper sedimentary formations. These formations appear to be in hydraulic communication with potentially active faults in crystalline basement, where nearly all the earthquakes are occurring. Although most of the recent earthquakes have posed little danger to the public, the possibility of triggering damaging earthquakes on potentially active basement faults cannot be discounted.”

      Mark Zoback has also specifically said that the Oklahoma earthquakes are “unrelated to hydraulic fracturing,” and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory notes that injection-related quakes “should not be confused with hydrofracturing.”

      P6: The abstract above makes it clear that wastewater disposal via injection wells, not fracking, is to blame for the increase in earthquake activity. Furthermore, if you read the paper the authors even manage to pinpoint that it is saltwater disposal, ie not fracking flowback waters. Even further than that they identify, via modelling, that it is pore fluid pressure communication through the Arbuckle Group to the basement that is resulting in the earthquakes. This explains why the quakes can happen tens of miles from the injection wells and up to years later (something that had confused geologists and led to speculation it might not be due to the wastewater injection) – it is the fluid transmission through the pore spaces in the Arbuckle to the fault planes in the basement rocks. I.e. it is completely unrelated to any hydraulic fracturing within overlying shales, which are not connected to this system in any way being in different rocks in different locations and without connection to the Arbuckle.

      P7: Therefore we have ruled out fracking as a cause in Oklahoma, and we have ruled out wastewater injection as a possibility in the UK (since it is illegal). Therefore the whole argument with reference to Oklahoma as an argument that relates in any way to the UK is entirely invalid.

      Lastly, I would point out that calls to ‘do your own research’ seem tactical in nature. I have done my research. I did a degree in Geology. I have worked literally all over the world for over a decade seeing the job happen. I have received training specific to petroleum and reservoir geology, engineering and interpretation. Furthermore, as I hope anyone reading this can see, when you actually do do real research and find the current, and up to date, science you find that there are many mistakes in the anti fracking argument presented above. It is simply not possible to really research something like the Oklahoma issue and not come away understanding that it is waste water injection and that fracking is unrelated unless what you are reading is not the real research, but perhaps something illusory that someone has put on the internet to muddy the waters.

  5. Garry
    11th Sep 2015 at 12:32 pm

    I have drilled some 120 wells around the world and can say that much of this is false.

    Fracking is not new, it has been done for decades. All that is new is the increased volumes and the use on clays/shales. In that sense it has been tried and tested for decades on a smaller scale before moving up to a larger scale – as it should have been.

    19 sites (over what period? more than a decade?) is not many. Off of the top of my head I can already think of 19 drilling sites across Yorkshire in the past 5 years. Did these destroy the world? No. Did anyone notice enough to be able to name them, or point to where they are? I very much doubt these protesters could even point to them.

    There are not 50 vertical wells per site. There can be 50 laterals off of 5 wells, but that is very different. Please learn the subject.

    The Environment Agency regulates which chemicals can be used and they must be non-hazardous by law. Calling the ‘toxic’ only betrays a lack of understanding. Water can be toxic to the body if drunk in large enough quantities. Toxicity is not just about the name of the chemical, it is about the dose. You cannot just look at a product sheet and find that a chemical can be toxic at a given concentration and then not care if fracking uses above or below that concentration. You cannot claim to care about science if you disregard basic chemistry.

    When the well is drilled it is a 24 hour process. This is how safety is maintained. However, traffic and noise are both regulated under the planning permission. Noise can be reduced at night, and obviously traffic is virtually zero at night. Traffic can also be regulated so that it avoids rush hours, school time etc. The well is temporary and once completed traffic reduces and there is no noise. Fracking the well can take a week to a few weeks, but can be done whenever, i.e. planning permission can enforce time limits of a few hours per day.

    The claim that vibrations can be felt over a large area is complete nonsense. It is 2 miles underground. What do people expect they can feel through 2 miles of solid rock? There is literally zero evidence for this as it is impossible.

    There was, unfortunately (because it plays into activists hands and gives the public a distorted view of the statistics), a small tremor in Lancashire. However, tremors are extremely rare and to date only a handful around the world are known to have been caused by fracking. E.g: Myths and Facts on Wastewater Injection, Hydraulic Fracturing, Enhanced Oil Recovery, and Induced Seismicity, J. L. Rubinstein et al, 2015, Seismological Research Letters Volume 86, Number 4
    “Most injection wells do not cause felt earthquakes. There are approximately 35,000 active wastewater disposal wells, 80,000 active enhanced oil-recovery wells, and tens of thousands of wells are hydraulically fractured every year in the United States. Only a few dozen of these wells are known to have induced felt earthquakes.”

    The DEFRA report is being highly, and selectively, misquoted. Groundwater contamination is of course a concern and as such is regulated. However, it is implied that it is a major concern in the sense that it is very likely to happen. It is not. It is a major concern in the same way that an aeroplane falling out of the sky is one of the major concerns if you are regulating aircraft. It does not mean that we are likely to see it happen.
    This year saw the publication of the initial draft of the EPA’s (the US Environmental Protection Agency) long awaited 5 year study of fracking. This involved an area of 38,000 wells and assessed 950 scientific and technical papers. Activists for years before had been claiming that fracking ’caused’ groundwater contamination, and not just that it might happen now and then, but that it was not possible to do it safely. The EPA’s conclusion was damning:
    “We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”. What they found was that in isolated cases pollution has been caused, and US states are changing their regulations accordingly.

    Furthermore the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) & Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently published: An Independent Scientific Assessment of Well Stimulation in California, Volume II, Potential Environmental Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing and Acid Stimulations, July 2015
    in which they report:
    “We found no documented instances of hydraulic fracturing or acid stimulations directly causing groundwater contamination in California.”

    And Stanford University published: The Depths of Hydraulic Fracturing and Accompanying Water Use Across the United States, Robert B. Jackson et al, 2015
    which reports:
    “Using innovative techniques such as isotopic “tracer” compounds that distinguish the source of chemicals in well water, Jackson has not found evidence that frack water contaminants seep upward to drinking-water aquifers from deep underground.”

    In fact, fracking looks very innocent in all of this, which the protesters never admit even though the science clearly shows it. You do not drill 180,000 wells and conduct over 1,000,000 frack jobs on them and still have ZERO confirmed cases of groundwater contamination by fracking itself unless it really is very safe.

    Every problem caused is down the the well itself – not the process of hydraulically fracturing the rock (which is actually just a well completion process). We have been drilling wells in the UK since before World War 2. We have 2200 wells – where is this claimed disaster???? It simply is not there.

    In fact in: Oil and gas wells and their integrity: Implications for shale and unconventional resource exploitation
    R Davies et al, Marine and Petroleum Geology, 2014
    Davies studies pollution events from UK wells and states:
    “In the UK there have been a small number of reported pollution incidents associated with active wells and none with inactive abandoned wells.”

    That small number is less than a handful, it also shows – as expected – that any pollution is not the news grabbing, headline making, disaster the anti fracking movement would claim. It is simply an unfortunate event that ends up being cleaned up and needn’t cause anything at all. Remember that a well site is fully bonded, i.e. unlike many work sites it has a protective membrane underground that protects the nearby soil. So even if something is spilled it doesn’t mean it affects the nearby environment.

    Also note that ZERO pollution incidents have been reported from abandoned wells. That means something. Since abandoned wells are not inspected, but are still on someone’s land, it means that nothing has happened that has been noticed. If something has happened it was not enough for anyone to notice it and report it. This is at the very least the complete opposite of the claims made by the anti fracking movement – that these wells present some sort of ever present danger. The evidence just doesn’t back that up, and nor does the science. They are after all a cemented up hole.

    The DEFRA report does not claim that house prices will likely fall by 7%. What it says is that they MIGHT, but that looking elsewhere in the UK where oil and gas development has occurred there is no reason to think that they will because oil and gas development has not affected house prices in other parts of the country. For comparison, DEFRA’s figure for how much a wind farm MIGHT reduce house prices is 12%. Either way, the report also makes clear that the protests and the information (misinformation) spread by the anti fracking movement itself is responsible for this. There has been no affect on house prices across the UK by oil and gas development. The shale gas wells in Lancashire were all drilled, and one fracked, with zero affect on house prices. There are multiple oil and gas fields in the UK that show no affect on house prices. What has affected them are the protest camps and insane rhetoric by the anti fracking movement. In fact, this letter is a perfect example. Print stuff like this and it can affect house prices; surely this is an ethical issue given that the data does not back up this letter.

    As for criticising the Government’s advice. I don’t know what the author has been reading; seemingly 10 minutes on google only reading anti fracking literature. It is well known that geological consensus is that it can be done safely. The BGS conclude it can be done safely. The Royal Society stated it could be done safely in 2012 and recommended several changes to regulation, 95% of which has been made, or is being put in place (even though the industry is only at the stage of exploration and no-one knows if it is even economic). The Royal Society of Engineers stated that it could be done safely. The UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor states that it can be done safely (so I really have no idea how this author can claim that the government is ignoring its advisers). The European Academies Science Advisory Council states that it can be done safely. The independent advice to the Scottish government was that Scotland could do it safely (after which it ignored the advice and whacked a moratorium on it – anyone smell politics?..), the advice to New York State was that it could be done safely (after which the mayor ditched the thousands of pages of work and recommissioned it by a board that included members of the local anti fracking community who then produced a document that used ‘peer reviewed’ documents produced by the anti fracking groups in the US and ‘peer reviewed’ by some of the people on the same board, who then did not declare their conflict of interest, which was later discovered by journalists..). New York then banned it (again, smell the politics – and in this case the money by the anti fracking groups in the US). Surely that is enough to say it can be done safely – and definitely enough to prove that the claim that the government is ignoring its advisers is plain false.

    • Andy
      13th Sep 2015 at 11:11 am

      Hydraulic fracturing was commercially introduced in 1949. High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing is a more recent technology. And it is HVHF we are dealing with at KM8 and today in the UK. As DECC and the Environment Agency has categorically stated only one well has been HVHF in the UK and that was at Preese Hall in 2011 – the one with the seismic event that led to a moratorium – so it is actually irrelevant how many wells may have been drilled and hydraulically fracked in the UK to date. Only ONE has been High Volume Hydraulically Fractured – end of smoke and mirrors please.

      • Garry
        13th Sep 2015 at 5:00 pm

        Not at all Andy,
        I have listed the research elsewhere on this page. It is widely accepted that HVHF, as you put it, has not led to any of the extravagant claims made by people over the last few years. What has caused the environmental issues has not been HVHF, but just the normal run of the mill well issues that are exactly the same as any well has to deal with. Because of that those 2200 wells in the UK already are very relevant to the claims made against fracking because those wells also cut thorough aquifers, also had to be cased to protect those aquifers, and also had to deal with well control, the same drilling engineering and the same geological issues as any HVHF well will have to. It is precisely because hydraulic fracturing has been proven to be very very low risk that the rest of the UK wells do provide us with a valid dataset with reference to problems in the US because the problems in the US have not occurred because of the actual fracking of the wells, but because of the different ways they manage the rest of the operation.
        You are right to point out that a moratorium was already put in place in the UK while UK scientists assessed the situation. They eventually lifted it when the science showed it could be done safely and that the tremor in Lancashire was manageable, and in the end regulations were put in place to control the tremor issue.

  6. Neil Milbanke
    11th Sep 2015 at 7:55 am

    This is absolute rubbish, hydraulic fracturing has been around for many years, FFR keep quoting problems in America where they have appalling legislation on what is used in fracking, In UK we have the highest standards in the world.
    The process actually entails pumping 99% water and sand at high pressure, with 1% chemicals as additives, these chemicals can ALL be found in the average kitchen in either food stuffs or cleaning agents.
    I worked in the oilfield for 40 years, my family are farmers in Kirby Misperton, I have 4 grand children and two great grand children all living there and I have no fears at all for their safety.

    Neil Milbanke
    Thornton le Dale

    • Jon
      11th Sep 2015 at 3:36 pm

      Thanks for your comment Neil. However please note our commenting guidelines: https://www.slingsbyvillage.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/
      This was borderline and we’ve bent our rules a bit to let it through. (Ed)

    • Chris Redston
      14th Sep 2015 at 3:07 pm

      Dear Neil
      DECC have confirmed in a letter dated August 2013 that only one well in the UK has ever been fracked using high pressure hydraulic fracturing. This was the well at Preese Hall in Lancashire. What you are referring to was generally called ‘well stimulation’ before HVHP Fracking started, and to refer to both as ‘fracking’ is deliberately misleading people and muddying the waters. However, the processes, as you well know, are very different. Well stimulation uses low pressure, small quantities of water and no added chemicals apart from sometimes a surfactant, and is mainly used at the end of a well’s life to help continue production. At Wytch Farm, for example, they stimulated the wells using sea water. Crucially, HVHP fracking is the only way to get gas from Shale rock. And that’s the process that is causing such controversy – as it did in Lancashire.
      As for the chemicals, even if they are all found in cleaning agents under your sink, you still probably wouldn’t want them ending up in your kettle.

      • Garry
        15th Sep 2015 at 4:34 pm

        Hi Chris,

        Years ago, when all this started, it was all fire and brimstone regarding ‘fracking’. There was alot of concentration on the process of pumping large volumes of water against the shale and alot of claims about issues and risks to groundwater. Your comment I think sits within this tradition. As you say, HVHF (you keep calling it HVHP, but it is high volume hydraulic fracturing isn’t it?) is larger scale than before due to the ‘high volume’ bit, as opposed to what was previously called well stimulation (actually hydraulic fracturing is a well stimulation technique, they are not different things).

        So it is as if you are saying that the modern hydraulic fracturing is different to what was in the past, and that that is where the problem is coming from.

        The issue with this type of argument is that the evidence indicates that it is wrong. Several very large scale studies have been released in the last year or so showing a strong lack of any evidence that the process of hydraulic fracturing has been responsible for groundwater contamination. It looks as if it is pretty much universally not fracking, but well integrity and surface fluid/waste management issues.

        That being the case this HVHF is different to the old ‘fracking’ argument is a bit of a red herring because if the issues are down to well integrity and surface fluid handling then they are the same issues as all wells have, and really have little to do with fracking and instead relate to just the plain old drilling of a well.

        That being said, I agree with commenter’s that the large expansion in the US across wildly different regulation regimes has not helped things at all and there are numerous examples of failure of practices in the US, as well as illegal activity and I strongly support the recommendations of both the House of Lords and the Royal Society that independent inspection will be required come any production scale industry. Given that the issues observed in the US have not been due to fracking, but instead down to well integrity and surface fluid issues, which are the same issues any of the 40 or so wells drilled in the UK has had to deal with and all 40 of those have proceeded without any impact on their local environment I have little doubt in the ability of the current industry to drill 10 or 20 exploration wells without any environmental incidents at all. However, if the industry progresses to development then independent inspection is important for public confidence. Of course, the EA is free to inspect well sites today, but more regular and random inspections would be better for something larger scale.

        • Garry
          16th Sep 2015 at 7:11 pm

          Sorry Chris, obviously the UK has over 2100 wells. The 40 I refer to are the 40 drilled in the last 5 years.

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