Stop Cuadrilla turning Lancashire into a Fracking Hell!

A marks the potential epicentre of Cuadrilla’s proposed 1,000 plus well, Shale Gas field which will turn Lancashire into a fracking disaster area.

E-mail objection I sent earlier this week to Lancashire County Council Planners re Cuadrilla’s application to extend planning permission for test drilling and the development of fracking near Tarleton in West Lancs.

Dear Sirs,

Re: Application number 08/12/1032 – BECCONSALL EXPLORATION SITE, OFF BONNY BARN ROAD, HUNDRED END, BANKS.

I am writing to you to formally object to the above application by Cuadrilla Resources Ltd to extend planning permission for test-drilling and the development of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in Becconsall, West Lancashire.

I am objecting on a number of grounds not least the health and safety of workers, local residents and the NW and wider public in general.

Cuadrilla Resources say that fracking is perfectly safe if it’s done correctly. They would say that wouldn’t they?

It’s possible to abstractly argue the same thing for almost everything – as it’s nye on a truism! The trouble is, even under the so-called ‘safest’ systems, accidents still happen in the real world, for whatever reason, and all the more so when the potential for making huge quantities of money and large operations are involved. Just look at BP in the Gulf of Mexico recently.

In the case of fracking it is currently in the UK, simply one huge disaster waiting to happen. This is so, not only in terms of the clearly heightened potential for ‘one-off’ localised, mini or bigger environmental catastrophes, but also as a result of its longer term environmental consequences, locally, nationally and internationally including greater general human ill health and likely road deaths and injuries.

The thing blocking the way of this disaster happening right now in the NW of England and our backyard is you.

FRACKING IS NOT ‘SAFE’ UNDER ANY CONDITIONS!

Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ as it is more commonly referred to, is not only not 100% safe and never can be, and a generally very bad idea in my view, but it clearly maintains if not increases current CO2 emissions, rather than reducing them. This is despite internationally agreed legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It thus adds to the growing threat of irreversible and catastrophic climate change. It also, irrefutably pollutes the environment with toxic chemicals and radioactive material, in one way or another.

This can, does and will come about via

i) Tanker spillages of the highly toxic ‘neat’ chemicals used in the fracking process as a result of a road accident or on site. (Just look at the huge quantities used below and examples from the video – see Youtube link also below – with such large scale operations the law of averages and the existence of insurance companies says it’s nye on inevitable at least once!)

ii) Leaks in surface lagoons of the toxic and radioactive ‘produced water’ into local water courses and adjacent land (again see the video below concerning the radioactive material released in the fracking process)

iii) Leaking of the ‘neat’ toxic chemicals used in the fracking process and/or ‘produced water’ into local underground aquifers during the fracking process itself (Lots of evidence of this in the USA)

iv) Leakage of untreated ‘dirty’ shale gas and other possible radioactive gases like Radon to the surface during and as a result of the fracking process. (There is lots of evidence of this in the USA where they also say fracking is safe if done correctly! Direct release of this gas into the atmosphere is even more environmentally damaging than burning it, and can be potentially highly dangerous in terms of catching fire and in polluting the local air and water.)

v) The ‘consciously expedited’ evaporation by fracking companies (to reduce its disposal cost), as well as the ‘natural’ evaporation of the toxic and radioactive ‘produced water’ in surface lagoons into the atmosphere (Great for local air quality and human and animal health!)

The question is not one of is this going to happen or not, but rather one of how much of this is going to happen? The worst scenarios, as the video below shows, can be potentially catastrophic for whole communities as well as individual families living nearby.

The cumulative general environmental and public health impact again as the experts interviewed in the video argue, is unquantifiable. Note the video does not even mention the mini-earthquakes in the Fylde area which have been attributed to the process, and which led to the halting of test drilling by Cuadrilla only recently.

Evidence supporting my objections above and many others are contained in the Youtube video at:

It may be apt, might I humbly suggest, for you as planners to also consider the detrimental environmental impact on water tables of the huge amount of water that is used in the fracking process and the correspondingly huge amount of tanker trucks required to transport it, in terms of its adverse effects on the degradation on local roads and consequent increased cost of their maintenance to local councils, increased traffic congestion, reduction in air quality and the effect of increased motor engine fumes, increased chance of road accidents, etc.

According to Wikipedia: “Hydraulic fracturing may use between 1.2 and 3.5 million US gallons of fluid per well, with large projects using up to 5 million US gallons. Additional fluid is used when wells are refractured; this may be done several times. Water is by far the largest component of fracking fluids. The initial drilling operation itself may consume from 6,000 to 600,000 US gallons of fluids. (UK Gallon = 1.2 US Gallon)

Further: (Report). The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved 16 September 2012. “Hydrofracturing a horizontal Marcellus well may use 4 to 8 million gallons of water, typically within about 1 week. However, based on experiences in other major U.S. shale gas fields, some Marcellus wells may need to be hydrofractured several times over their productive life (typically five to twenty years or more)”

Where will all the water required for this be coming from, and how and where will the contaminated ‘produced water’ be disposed of, especially when Cuadrilla are looking to develop a field of over a thousand wells? Planners, locally elected Councillors, MPs and the public as a whole surely have a right to know all these things I think before Cuadrilla are given the go ahead to do anything?

Even though the ‘neat’ toxic chemicals, many of them carcinogenic, used in the fracking process amounts to only a small percentage compared to the overall water used, even at 2% its not hard to work out that 2% of 1000 wells X even as little as 3 million UK gallons per well (note above additional water is used when the wells are refractured) = 60 million gallons of toxic chemicals needs to be transported at least once (and more likely several times during the ‘life’ of each well according to the recent Pennsylvannia State University Report of only a month ago) = 15,000 x 4000 gallon (6 wheel) Tanker trucks full of these hazardous chemicals on local roads, and the wider road network at some point.

The total number of 4000 gallon tankers required to transport the water required is a staggering 50 times that = 750,000. If each well was only re-fractured twice during the course of 25 years, then using again only as little as 3 million gallons of water per well, that’s equal to 90,000 or more 4000 gallon tanker loads each year to the entire field = approx 250 every single day for the next 25 years. How this will help to reduce CO2 emissions or our air quality is beyond comprehension, and of course, Cuadrilla would still need to dispose of the ‘produced water’ too = a total of maybe 500 tanker truck load per day if Cuadrilla’s plans see fruition, notwithstanding the reduction of ‘produced water’ as a result of what they manage to evaporate into the atmosphere locally and what’s left in the ground.

I think at the very least a thorough and proper environmental impact assessment taking on board all the points I have raised above is also very much in order and urgently required before any planning permission is given to Cuadrilla, if that is, you yourselves are unable to come to a decision (thus also saving the public purse the cost of such an EIA) based on the evidence presented, by me and no doubt many many others, to oppose and recommend a denial of permission to Cuadrilla’s planning application, which as I have said, is quite clearly in my view a very bad idea all round and just a disaster waiting to happen, simply in order to enable a comparatively tiny group of people with a lot of money, make a whole lot more by extracting stuff we don’t actually need and which they think the rest of us should pay for the detrimental environmental consequences of.

I will needless to say be keeping a copy of this e-mail which I will if necessary refer to later and haunt them with, should local planners and elected politicians support Cuadrilla’s application being simply given the go ahead and the disaster I predict occurs, which it surely will, a decision which possibly may also be pressured by central government energy policy and calls for much needed so-called job creation, which self-evidently would appear to be mostly for tanker drivers.

As an active trades unionist and President of Greater Manchester Associations of Trades Councils, I’d like to say that not only did the TUC Congress this year agree to oppose the expansion of fracking in the UK, but many, if not most unions now favour a massive expansion of renewables like solar, wind, hydro, and tidal and wave power and promoting energy conservation and better and cheaper public transport, as well as home grown food production, as the best way to both create long term sustainable jobs (fracking isn’t sustainable as once the gas has been extracted it has gone) reduce our dependence on ‘foreign’ energy, and food supplies, drastically cut CO2 emissions, and therefore also fight climate change, which only a fortnight ago scientists said we may have only as little as 50 months to put right (and which even Prince Charles appears to concur with) or it will be come uncontrollable by humans.

If the current Government had any genuine sense of the global calamity we are potentially facing, and was not in my view in the pocket of fossil fuel based energy lobbyists as well as the Banks, and possibly content with the thought that they themselves and their families will survive whatever happens, and who cares as it will be us plebs who are the ones who cop for it, and were not about trying to make as much money and gain as much power and influence as they can in the meantime, then what the unions are proposing, is what they should and would be doing in the interests of everyone.

It is important that local planners are not at all swayed by either pressure from the Government or cynical calls for, or promise of ‘much needed jobs’, but by the facts presented and the unassailable in my view weight of argument against a process which is in effect almost amounts to the brazen rape and pillage of our mother earth – and stuff the consequences, and which should be put a halt to everywhere immediately. You have the ability to help stop it NOW in your own backyard. I dearly hope you will decide to do so and reject Cuadrilla’s application

Please keep me informed of the progress of Cuadrilla’s application and of opportunities for me to comment further.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Hall
President, Greater Manchester Association of Trades Union Councils
39 Spa Road, Atherton, Manchester M46 9NR
Tel: 01942 886645 Mob: 07724 139278
E-mail: stevechik@talktalk.net

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