Gas fracking ‘highly probable’ cause of seaside earth tremors

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A CONTROVERSIAL “fracking” technique to extract gas was the “highly probable” cause of earth tremors which hit Lancashire’s Fylde coast earlier this year, a report has concluded today.

One tremor of magnitude 2.3 on the Richter scale hit the area on April 1. This was followed by a second of magnitude 1.4 on May 27, which prompted locals to blame fracking used by the oil and gas firm Cuadrilla.

Fracking involves extracting gas reserves from underground through the hydraulic fracturing of shale rock using high pressure liquid. Green groups claim the process damages the environment.

The firm commissioned a report by independent experts to investigate any links between the tremors and fracking work at their Preese Hall-1 well in Lancashire.

It said: “The report concludes it is highly probable that the fracking at Preese Hall-1 well triggered the recorded seismic events.”

The report also said a “number of factors coincided to cause the seismic events”.

The gas well encountered a “pre-existing critically stressed fault” which “accepted large quantities of fluid”, and the fault was “brittle enough to fail seismically”. The two tremors were “most likely” caused by “repeated direct injection of fluid into the same fault zone”, the report states.

It goes on to say the probability of a repeat occurrence of a “fracture-induced seismic event” with similar magnitude is “very low”.

The report was published just hours after environmental campaign group, Frack Off, stormed the shale gas rig at Banks, near Southport, at 5.30am.

Frack Off’s Jenny Boykin said: “Fracking uses a huge amount of water which is mixed with toxic chemicals, a large fraction of which are never recovered.

“The fracking fluid also leaches chemicals like arsenic out of the rocks when it is used, making it even more toxic, and so the fluid that is recovered becomes a big disposal problem.

“The contamination of irrigation water means that everyone’s food supplies could potentially be affected.”

A spokesman from the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “The implications of this Cuadrilla report will be reviewed very carefully before there will be any decision on the resumption of these hydraulic fracture operations.”