Following attendance at the Pulborough Village Hall Forum on fracking, we learnt with horror that drilling company Cuadrilla has already started drilling a 600-metres deep well in Balcombe and has bought up 64 acres of West Sussex to continue their experiments.
600 wells are planned across the Weald.
So what is fracking? Wells are drilled about 1km deep into the Jurassic rock layer.
Then water, sand and chemicals (some of them carcinogenic) are pumped in under high pressure to fracture the shale rock so that it gives up its methane gases.
After the process only 30 per cent to 50 per cent of the contaminated fluid sludge is extracted.
This sludge contains high levels of NORM (Naturally occurring radio-active materials), which the EA themselves have measured at 90 times higher than permitted levels.
The company is proposing that this is held in pond liners but their Environmental Risk Assessment does not address the risks should these leak or overflow.
On-shore shale gas extraction has at present no specific regulations.
The industry is also exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
This means that should our aquifers become contaminated the shale gas companies would not be liable.
This is outrageous.
So far public outrage has halted fracking taking place in France, Bulgaria, five Irish counties and some American and Australian States have declared moratoria on hydraulic fracturing.
Cuadrilla are now applying for a permit from the Environment Agency (EA) to remove the contaminated sludge after the fracking process for their Westby and Singleton sites in Lancashire.
The EA have promised to respond to ‘all information that is relevant to this assessment’.
Should the Lancashire permits to remove fracking sludge be granted this will surely set a precedent for applications in the Weald.
If you wish to respond you only have until today (October 25)!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org Please tell the EA if you do not want your response to be public.
For more information about how best to respond, see the RAFF group website where they have outlined the main objections to Cuadrilla being granted a permit based on the companies own Environmental Risk Assessment.
It is unthinkable to risk contaminating our aquifers, our land and its inhabitants in exchange for quick-fix financial gains.
Especially so as these on-shore gas reserves are not even likely to have a dramatic impact on the UK’s energy security.
When the gas runs out we’ll be harnessing energy from sun, wind and tide.
Wouldn’t it be better to start investing in low carbon sustainable energy sources now?
Mr J Kelsey