The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change is calling for submissions following a report on the seismic impact of shale gas fracturing, commonly known as fracking.
The report found that fracking operations were a likely contributor to two earthquakes in the Blackpool area in 2011.
Following the earthquakes, fracking operations at the nearby Bowland Basin were suspended.
The report suggests that fracking operations be resumed, with guidelines for monitoring and mitigating earthquake risks.
Hydraulic Fracturing, also known as “fracking” is a controversial practice within the gas and oil extraction industry that has been banned in numerous countries.
It involves pumping large amounts of water, sand and chemicals into the ground in order to create fissures within rock and release deposits of fossil fuel trapped within.
The practice is most commonly used to extract natural gas from shale rock.
The UK report acknowledged the risk of tremors associated with fracking, but maintained that new guidelines, such as more robust wells to avoid leaking pollutants and constant monitoring, should mitigate the risks.
The history of contamination associated with this technique of extraction is long and documented.
In the USA the poisoning of groundwater as well as explosions of natural gas beneath residential property are noted to have occurred, though perhaps the most famous images are of flammable tap water.
Natural gas has leaked into water supplies for many centuries but many argue that fracking is leading to significatnly increased levels of gas migration into water aquifers.
Another major concern is the massive dumping of chemicals which occurs with fracking. Wells require millions of tonnes of chemicalised water, meaning if contamination is to be completely avoided the water must be properly disposed of.
Such hazardous waste has raised concerns over whether proper disposal methods will be adhered to – an area where the current fossil fuel industry doesn’t have a particularly reassuring track record.
Submissions are open until May 29, and can be made through the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change website.
By: Yani Smith