All is not well with natural gas extraction in England. Seismic activity caused by a gas well left locals shaken and protesters want the well’s operators to “Frack Off.”
Minor earthquakes in the UK were probably triggered by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” said Cuadrilla Resources, owner and operator of the well which may have caused the tremors, reported the AP.
The quakes occurred in northwest England in April and May, and measured between 1.9 and 2.8 on the Richter scale.
“Fracking” operations were suspended after a May 27 earthquake near Blackpool, England.
“The seismic events were due to an unusual combination of geology at the (Preese Hall-1) well site coupled with the pressure exerted by water injection as part of operations,” Cuadrilla told AP, citing a report it had commissioned.
“This combination of geological factors was extremely rare and would be unlikely to occur together again at future well sites,” it added.
No matter how rare the company claims the quakes may be, protesters are worried about future seismic activity, contamination of ground water supplies, and other alleged dangers of “fracking.”
Protesters have launched a campaign called “Frack Off” to oppose continued use of hydraulic fracturing.
In a statement quoted by the AP, Cuadrilla said it believed that there were “five protesters on site, four of whom are attached to the machinery.”
Hydraulic fracturing involves using a pressurized fluid to crack a rock layer. The cracks allow fossil fuels to be extracted more easily and quickly.
Public health advocates worry that the chemicals involved in hydraulic fracturing may contaminate water sources. Though a 2004 EPA report stated that fracking did not pose a risk to drinking water, a Duke University study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found elevated levels of methane dissolved in drinking water.
Hydraulic fracturing operation in Pennsylvania (Wikimedia Commons)
Hydraulic fracturing operation in Wyoming (Wikimedia Commons)