Regulation

Environment Agency statement on Horse Hill smell

Horse hllpicture grabOn Tuesday, we reported on complaints made by people living near the Horse Hill oil site in Surrey about a hydrocarbon smell that coincided with a flow test of the well.

Several people reported the smell to the Environment Agency. DrillOrDrop asked the Agency questions about how many people had complained and where they had noticed the smell. We also asked about whether there was a condition in the site’s environmental permit controlling emissions.

The Environment Agency replied this morning. Here is the response in full:

“The Environment Agency takes the environmental risks associated with drilling for oil and gas very seriously.  We are investigating reports of odour and water quality issues received over the last few days.  As part of our investigation, we have made visits to the site and the local vicinity. We have not detected any odours or water quality issues and there is no evidence of any environmental impact.

“Assessment of the regular monitoring results from the site gas detection system shows no signs of gas release from the well. The site drainage is fully sealed and the water level in the drainage ditch is being controlled to prevent any water leaving site. Any excess water that accumulates is being tankered away to an appropriately licensed facility.

“The environmental permit issued contains a condition on odour management. If the operator breaches this condition, we may require them to submit and implement an approved Odour Management Plan. We will continue to carry out regular inspections of the local area and site checks during these short term operations to ensure the operator continues to do everything necessary to protect the environment and people.”

We also put the complaints to UK Oil and Gas Investments, which is handling PR for Horse Hill. So far we have had no response.

13 replies »

  1. Yet another in a long line of evidence free ‘problems’, where there seems to be a desire to present any form of hydrocarbon extraction as a sin.

    This could be added to the ‘pollution’ incident at Barton Moss that turned out to be nothing.

    The ‘illegal’ dumping of flowback water in the Manchester Ship canal, when this was done legally and under licence.

    The continuous claims of the supposed incompetence of Cuadrilla, again not supported by evidence.

    Claims that the small damage to the Cuadrilla PH 1 well was an environmental issue, when it was not.

    Claims in Scotland that residents could smell methane leaking, when methane has no smell. Nothing was found.

    Claims that farming will be affected by drilling when there is no evidence to support that.

    Claims that aquifers will be affected by fracking when a 5 year study by the US Environment Protection Agency made it clear that this has never happened.

    and so on. Its rather sad really.

    If drilling filled the atmosphere with stray hydrocarbons, why have there not been any exploding rigs in the remote and extreme environment of the North Sea? After Piper Alpha (not a drilling accident) DECC and the HSE reviewed safety and this has been a very safe place to work for decades, in spite of the hostile environment. Onshore Surrey is comparatively benign.

    • Yes KW, “quote” it is rather sad.

      With 5.2 million homes at risk of flooding in England ( SOURCE, Flood defence spending in England – Parliament breifing paper 19th November 2014 )

      With TWO THIRDS of the UK insurance market either refusing insurance cover, or placing special exemptions on the policies of homeowners who live in areas at risk of flooding with fracking sites in close proximity.
      DEFRA warning of the serious risk to human health from highly polluted fracking waste water.
      ( SOURCE, Independant Newspaper UK, 9th January 2016, headlined : Householders Affected By Floods Face Insurance Double Whammy If They Live Near A Planned Fracking Site )

      If business and homeowners are lucky enough to obtain insurance cover, or cover without special exemptions being imposed.
      WILL the Fracking Industry compensate people for any increase in their premiums ?

      • KW,

        The TWO MILLION GALLONS of radioactive fracking waste water from ONE fracking area, which took approximately 300 tanker trips to transport to the Sewerage treatment plant in Davyhulme. Which was then released in to the Manchester Ship Canal, STILL radioactive due to the fact that the treatment plant does not have the capability to treat such waste.
        ( SOURCE : Independant Newspaper UK, 27 January 2014 headlines, Caudrilla Withdraws Application To Frack In Lancashire After Encountering Problems With Radioactive Waste Disposal )

        This type of flow back water, which lets not forget only 10% -70% is ever recovered from the well, is now classed as radioactive waste since the EU regulations came on to force, October 2011.

        Residents, Councillors and Politicians in Trafford and Salford were furious when they were finally made aware of the dumping of this radioactive waste into the Manchester Ship Canal.

        NOT A GOOD START for the fracking industry, who are asking people to trust them.

  2. This proves it. It is ALL LIE LIE LIE from the anti-fracker. They make up anything to influence public opinion and get their own way. Where is the truth in this fragile world of our? How can we protect our children if It’s all LIE LIE LIE.

    (Sorry I am ranting again just like them).

    • The gas and other volatile products of the well including benzene and other VOCs are not being flared at Horse Hill. Instead these materials are being emitted directly in to the atmosphere. The conventional micro oil field at Singleton in Sussex has had pollution incidents involving the release of large quantities of benzene in to the atmosphere. Benzene is highly carcinogenic. The Environment Agency is not competent.

    • As you say TW, it is worthy of a rant. Wells Water Waste, it is illegal to vent VOCs into the atmosphere. Where is your data to prove what you have written? Or is it just a ‘gut feeling’ that what is happening is evil and must be opposed.

      There is something rather pathetic when people who appear to have zero technical competence pass judgement on matter about which they know nothing.

      Yet you still feel its OK to state that the EA are not competent when you present no evidence to support that. Perhaps you should advise your local heart surgeon where he is going wrong? Or maybe advise Rolls Royce about how to design their engines?

      Why do some people think they have the right to pass judgement on matters they do not understand, over competent, trained and highly experienced specialists. Very sad indeed.

      • I agree with you KW,

        Let’s leave it to highly trained professionals to advise us ordinary folk on fracking.

        Maybe organisations like, Just Google any of the following.

        NOBEL PEACE PRIZE winners, Physicians For Social Responsibility ( PSR ) fracking.

        Breast Cancer Action, fracking .

        Breast Cancer Fund , fracking.

        To name but a few.

        Who are all AGAINST fracking.

  3. KW,
    I DISPUTE WHAT YOU SAY regarding the US Environmental Protection Agency.

    Here is a post I put on this forum several days ago.

    Even though the US Environmental Protetection Agency ( EPA ) failed to study the local impacts of fracking and therefore missed the ELEPHANT in the room. The following still shows evidence of pollution.

    This section taken from the article, EPA Findings In Fracking Water Pollution Disputed By Its Own Scientists, 19 November 2015

    ” QUOTE ”
    Still, the EPA report determined for the first time that fracking had fouled drinking water. The finding was a notable reversal for the Obama administration, which, like its predecessors, had long insisted that fracking did not pose a threat to drinking water.
    The EPA report confirmed that there were “specific instances” when fracking “led to impacts on drinking water resources, including contamination of drinking water wells.”

  4. Jackthelad,

    I have read the exec summary of the EPA report. I do not recognise the criticisms that you allege.

    The report concludes that the risk of water contamination from fracking is extremely low.

    The biggest understood risk is from handling of chemicals or production water on the surface. There are no national statistics but by detailed analysis of data from 11 states, the EPA estimate there are between 0.4 and 12 spills per 100 wells drilled. Please note that sabotage is identified as one cause of leaks. Less than 10% of spills reach surface water. None are known to have contaminated ground water. The total spillage is approximately 1000 smaller than used oil dumped (illegally) by people changing their own car oil. I don’t hear anyone calling for prohibition of oil changes.

    Leakage underground can occur through the well casing or the strata being fracked. The latter depends upon local geology. Providing there is adequate separation between the rock being fracked and subsurface aquifers the risk is very small. Typically there is a 1% chance of a fracture of more than 350m developing. The largest known fracture is less than 600m. Given that there are about 30000 fracking wells per year drilled in the USA, the chances of a longer frac developing here in the UK are infinitesimal. I am not privy to the drilling permits but the infamous Preese Hall was drilled in what looks to be a target depth of approximately 3000m.

    Leakage through a well casing is a risk. The EPA estimates that 1 well in 3500 develops leaks. These can almost always be fixed. I say almost because I have seen no evidence of wells that have developed permanent leaks, but I cannot be sure that there is no such thing as a permanently leaking modern well. You should note that the EPA report estimates that 1 million wells were drilled in the USA prior to the advent of regulation.(1950s) Many of their locations are not known. But I think you can draw 2 conclusions. Casings prior to regulation were generally poor and almost certainly some (many?) are leaking. If there is a problem it would have surfaced by now.

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