Disappointment at no plan for further groundwater monitoring at former fracking sites

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Campaigners against fracking in Lancashire have said they are disappointed to hear there will no further groundwater monitoring at two of Cuadrilla’s former shale gas sites.

Preese Hall

The Environment Agency has confirmed that it had no intention to carry out the monitoring at the Anna’s Road site, near Lytham St Anne’s, and at Preese Hall, Singleton.

Fracking at the Preese Hall site was linked to earth tremors in the Blackpool area in spring 2011. A Government-commissioned report on the incident found there was deformation of the well casing at Preese Hall but not loss of well integrity.

Responding last week to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Environment Agency said:

“We have assessed the information provided by Cuadrilla for the Preese Hall site, and no impact from the drilling of the borehole has been detected, and the one year’s monitoring post abandonment also showed no impact on the ground water.

“The groundwater monitoring was undertaken between 26 November 2014 and November 2015, on a quarterly basis. Results were delivered quarterly by agreement with the Environment Agency.”

Annas Rd, Ribble Estuary

At Anna’s Road, Cuadrilla announced in November 2012 it was discontinuing the well because of concerns that cement had not adhered evenly to part of the casing. During tests, a packer became trapped.

In 2013, the company said it planned to frack a new well at Anna’s Road (link to press release) but latter announced it was pulling out of the site because of “technical constraints related to wintering birds”

In the FOI response, the Environment Agency said:

“The site at Anna’s Road was abandoned after penetrating the base of the Permo Triassic Sandstone. The holes were not Hydraulically Fractured. At that time no permits were required from the Environment Agency, and we have no data in respect of groundwater monitoring at this site.”

“For wells drilled prior to October 2013, we issued a regulatory position statement which covers the requirement for appropriate decommissioning to ensure the risk to groundwater is controlled.”

Frack Free Lancashire

A spokesperson from Frack Free Lancashire said:

“We are disappointed to learn that there will be no further groundwater monitoring at the Cuadrilla fracking sites at Anna’s Road and Preese Hall.

“We consider that the Environment Agency has a duty to local residents to maintain a post-operational monitoring regime especially when, as at Preese Hall, the fracking operations were abandoned after they caused earthquakes. We think that there is an ongoing risk of structural failure and therefore of water contamination.

“Unfortunately, the regulatory authorities have limited resources and are clearly not equipped to maintain a rigorous monitoring regime. It does not bode well for the monitoring of many hundreds of fracking sites across the Fylde which is what Cuadrilla are aiming for in the very near future.”

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