Those Fracking Chemicals

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is the technique of drilling down into the earth and injecting fluid (a mixture of water, sand and toxic chemicals) into the ground, at a very high pressure, in order to fracture shale rocks to release the natural gas and oil inside and let it flow out to the head of a well.

By drilling horizontally into the rock layer, fracking allows drilling companies to access hard to reach resources of oil and gas and the possibility of shale gas, securing energy supplies which will significantly contribute to the UK’s energy needs in the future.

However, there are environmental concerns associated with fracking. Large amounts of water are used and transported to the site at a significant cost to the environment. The water industry has warned that it could make our water shortages worse, but there is also a risk of contamination through fluids leaking into the ground or water supply.

Fracking has been prominent in the US since the 1990s and you only have to read the local media stories to get a sense of the disruption from living near a fracking site, but more importantly the widespread dangers and problems to the environment and people’s health and homes arising from the activity.

Large open pits of waste water are left alongside condensate tanks. There have been reports of fluid spillages and unsafe disposal of billions of gallons of waste water causing wells and streams to be contaminated in at least four states.

A dusty residue has permeated the inside of neighbouring homes and there have been reports of people suffering from headaches and nausea, from a strong smell of chemicals, coupled with worries about what they were breathing in.

Local authorities changed their zoning regulations to allow fracking close to people’s homes and energy companies have had to compensate some residents for damage to their health and properties, as property prices have declined after fracking activity.

Back in the UK and the Government has already licensed more than 37,000 square meters of land for exploration, constituting about half of the acquired land in Great Britain. The industry remains committed to pursuing shale gas in Britain, maintaining that fracking in the UK will be regulated differently, with water quality being monitored and a restriction on chemicals which are used in the US. However a recent key report was published with information about the impact of fracking; censored 63 times in 13 pages and sections were also deleted, including information on the effect on house prices, drawing conclusions that the Government has something to hide.

It is predominantly the north of England that has been identified as having large reserves of shale gas and recently Ineos, the Swiss-based chemicals group, have declared that they will be embarking on an ambitious “fracking” campaign in northwest England, with plans to spend £138m over the next few years drilling for shale gas.

There are seven licensed areas in the northwest including land where drilling permission has already been granted near Chester and Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and next to the M6 motorway’s Thelwall Viaduct, west of Manchester. Up to 10 appraisal wells could be drilled in the northwest – assuming that planning permission is given.

It was in Manchester that an environmental expert recently found dangerously high levels of contamination in the earth just outside the fracking test drilling site at Barton Moss.

Dr Aidan Foley discovered a high concentration of chemicals that are linked to cancer by the perimeter fence of the IGas plant in Eccles, Salford – a judge has been told.

The environmental scientist also said he found what he believes could have been drilling mud left at the back of the site. The mud is used in the drilling process to carry rock cuttings to the surface and it must be disposed of in a controlled way because it is considered to be potentially hazardous.

In Manchester Magistrates Court the expert gave his evidence, describing how the report had found concerns over the levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in earth near the test drilling site.

The court was told that Dr Foley would need to get inside the Barton Moss site’s perimeter fence to take more samples to identify the source of the contamination but IGas and landowners Peel Holdings had so far blocked the move.

You only have to read the horror stories in America regarding contamination of water with the hazardous chemicals that are used in fracking and all the sickness caused to people in the neighbouring homes to be worried about the reason that the Government and companies are being secretive about fracking.

With plans to allow drilling under people’s homes, under National Parks and half the land in the UK we recommend that protect you and your family.

If you or your client’s are looking to purchase a home Conveyancing Data Services offer an Energy search within 25km of your postcode identifying any current and licensed fracturing sites.

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