Blackpool; Fracking; Earthquakes; Not Again?

21st October 2018

Four earthquakes identified in Blackpool just days after fracking resumes.  Worse may be to come as well, according to expert. 

The British Geological Survey has warned that four earthquakes were detected close to the energy firm Cuadrilla’s fracking site just outside Blackpool. Two were recorded on Thursday night (18 October) at minus levels but on Friday afternoon a tremor measuring 0.3 was experienced, which campaigners claim hit Cuadrilla’s own ‘amber’ warning levels on its seismic activity system. Another small quake in the early hours of Saturday registered.

These minor earthquakes may not have been felt by folk in the area. However, campaigners say they prove that the site should be closely monitored and any additional fracking re-evaluated.

This has happened before

Fracking operations created earthquakes of a larger magnitude back in 2011. Cuadrilla sought to appease public concerns and was threatened by regulators with shut down unless it got its act in order. Fracking was stopped in 2011 after two earthquakes. One reached 2.3 on the Richter scale and they were triggered in close proximity to the site of shale gas test drilling. An ensuing report found that it was highly probable that the fracking operation had caused the tremors.

Above: Cuadrilla’s assurances did little to quell public concerns.

Cuadrilla had resumed drilling again recently after campaigners lost a High Court challenge. Of course, eco-campaigners frequently lose battles when the cash-driven Establishment steps in.

Legally challenging mega-rich companies is often a futile exercise from the first day. Justice (or the illusion of it), as many good folks now know, is largely about hard cash or the lack of it. The legal system is fuelled by cash and without it simply being ‘righteous’ in any good cause is frequently not enough to gain justice. Like politics, the legal system is clandestinely corrupt in many ways. Sadly, the trusting little person in the street does not find this truth out, unless he/she is personally affected!

Cuadrilla has been injecting fluids under high pressure deep underground in order to intentionally destroy the gas-bearing rock, a process that’s known as ‘Fracking’ or ‘Hydrofracking’, brought to the UK from America, where it has been a highly controversial process. The methane gas released into the environment by fracking is believed to be 20 times more dangerous than CO2. Has fracking seriously damaged the undersea regions?

Injection of fluid into subsurface geological structures can create subsidence; this may consequently generate seismic events over a range of magnitudes However, Cuadrilla previously stated that it could put in place procedures to “practise earthquake prevention”. In view of these latest tremors, perhaps Mother Nature disagrees with this company’s haughty claims?

Protesters have called for an end to fracking. There have also been concerns that potentially carcinogenic chemicals could be discharged during the process and find their way into drinking water sources. Experience in the US shows it could also pollute air and water supplies.

Geophysics expert warns Quadrilla to “cease fracking” as worse may be to come

Emeritus professor of geophysics at the University of Glasgow, David Smythe, warned that “there may be trouble ahead if work continues”.

He added: “Recent research by Stanford University shows that these tiny tremors can be indicators of bigger quakes to follow – like canaries in a coal mine. The problem for Cuadrilla is that if it carries on regardless, bigger earthquakes may well be triggered. Cuadrilla’s only safe option is to cease fracking.”

Stuart Haszeldine, a professor of carbon capture at the University of Edinburgh, said:

“New wells which are drilled and are fracked will build the information base for the UK. But it’s quite likely that some will exceed the natural limit, and trigger earthquakes many years before nature would have done so.”

Will the trusting public be the last to know what the true ecological consequences may be of blasting underground rocks to pieces, near to the Ribble estuary towns of Blackpool and Southport?

Campaigners say that recent earth tremors are proving once again that fracking is too risky. Warnings, as always, are there to be heeded by wise people with insight or dismissed by sanctimonious fools.

Naturally, any potential energy benefits to the UK economy are welcome, yet not at the expense of damage to the fragile ecosystem and not via using communities adjacent to fracking sites as human guinea pigs.

After all, some folk once believed that the Titanic was not only an essential technological advancement but also ‘unsinkable’. The question is – how sustainable is fracking in view of what is occurring AGAIN under Lancashire today?

Pat Regan ©