Fracking Suspended in Britain After Earthquakes

We have long written about the dangers of <"">hydraulic fracturing, focusing on these environmentally menacing activities in the United States. Now, says the Associated Press (AP), fracking—shale gas extraction—has been halted in Great Britain following some earthquakes there.

Shale gas drilling was stopped in England when scientists announced that two earthquakes might be connected to fracking activities there, said the AP. In hydraulic fracturing, fracking fluids are injected into the ground at high pressure to shake loose gas and oil deposits.

The British Geological Survey
reportedly recorded a 1.5 magnitude quake late last week in an area near Blackpool, which is located in the northwest area of England, and within 2km—about 1.2 miles—of where gas exploration was taking place, said the AP. A prior earthquake was recorded in May; that quake recorded with a magnitude of 2.3, noted the AP.

British Geological Survey’s head of seismology, Brian Baptie, just announced that both quakes appeared to have “a similar location and mechanism,” quoted the AP. Fracturing has been stopped by Cuadrilla Resources following news of both earthquakes while it reviews information received from the quakes and while it collaborates with experts. “We expect that this analysis and subsequent consultation will take a number of weeks to conclude and we will decide on appropriate actions after that,” said chief executive Mark Miller, quoted the AP.

We just wrote that due to a loophole in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, energy companies in the United States are not required to disclose the chemicals used fracking fluids. The one exception applies to fracking fluid mixtures that contain diesel fuel.

Earlier this year, a report compiled by Democratic congressional staffers found that millions of gallons of dangerous chemicals, some cancer causing, were shot into wells in over 13 states during fracking activities from 2005 to 2009. According to the report, a number of frackers acknowledged injecting a total of 10 million gallons of “straight diesel fuel” during fracking, and another 22 million gallons of fracking fluid containing at least 30 percent diesel without having received permits from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

As fracking has become more widespread, some states have started requiring drillers to disclose the makeup of their fracking fluids. Texas is considering such a law, and Wyoming recently started requiring drillers to list the name and concentration of each of the chemicals used in every well drilled there. Arkansas imposed disclosure regulations in January; while in February, Pennsylvania began requiring drillers to disclose information on Materials Safety Data Sheets.

As fracking activities continue to broaden, concerns about its possible environmental and health impacts have grown as well. Some gas producers tout the benefits of this practice as enabling the U.S. to tap into its natural resources and improve the economy with an influx of jobs and money; the AP notes that one such recent claim says that fracking promises to increase “global recoverable natural gas resources by 40 percent.” Gas producers, however, never discuss the dangers and catastrophic consequences of this toxic process that decimates human, wildlife, atmospheric, and aquatic environments and health.

Although the controversy has sparked much debate in other areas, including in the U.S., for its part, France recently took a stand, put a fracking project on hold and taking the initial legislative move to ban shale gas extraction, said the AP.

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