“Robust regulation not materialising”, say residents as Cuadrilla asked again to improve water management at Lancashire fracking site

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Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, 25 October 2017. Photo: Used with the owner’s permission

Campaigners against Cuadrilla’s shale gas operations near Blackpool have accused regulators of “repeatedly failing” to take action against company breaches.

Drone pictures from the past fortnight have shown a reoccurrence of flooding problems at the site off Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

The problem has contributed to four breaches of the company’s environmental permit when water containing silt escaped from the pad. Campaigners have raised concerns that contamination from the pad has spread to neighbouring fields.

The Environment Agency has asked Cuadrilla several times to improve how it deals with rain water flooding but has taken no enforcement action on the issue.


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In a statement to DrillOrDrop today, the Environment Agency said:

“We are aware of standing water on the well pad at the Preston New Road site following recent heavy rainfall. We have discussed this issue with the operator and we have requested further improvements to the onsite surface water management.”

The campaign group Frack Free Lancashire has expressed frustration with the regulator.

“This is not the gold-plated regulation promised us by our government. It is a tawdry imitation of the real thing and the thin covering is wearing off in front of our eyes.

“The robust regulations that the UK government have repeatedly promised residents, have not and will not ever materialise.

“The regulatory system on fracking is not fit for purpose, placing residents’ health and lives at risk by its repetitive failures to take action against company breaches and ensure that regulations live up to the tough tests they must face.”

Frack Free Lancashire urged local Conservative MP, Mark Menzies, to “step out of the shadows” and ensure that action was taken by what it called “the disjointed regulators”.

Cuadrilla made this statement to DrillOrDrop:

“The Environment Statement for Preston New Road explains the design of the well pad which has been constructed and quality checked to ensure rainwater and other site fluids are not discharged in an uncontrolled manner.

“The well pad was deliberately constructed with a protective membrane to prevent flow from site to Carr Bridge Brook and groundwater receptors. Subsequently a “bath tub” has been deliberately created which will contain rainwater safely preventing environmental harm.

“To control the quantity of rainwater on site, Cuadrilla uses tankers to remove and transport rainwater to a permitted waste water treatment facility.”

Repeated permit breaches

Today’s statement from the Environment Agency coincided with a Spinwatch report which detailed five environmental permit breaches at the Preston New Road site since January, three of which are linked to surface water problems.

In February and March, permit breaches were listed against the company when water containing silt escaped from the site and discharged into a tributary of the Carr Bridge Brook (Environment Agency report).

A similar incident happened in June when silt-contaminated water escaped through an electrical conduit (Environment Agency report)

The three breaches all involved the management of surface water and were described as non-compliances, which could have a minor environmental effect. No enforcement action was taken.

In the June report, the EA instructed Cuadrilla to:

“Prevent the escape of silt contaminated surface water from the drainage system by ensuring that the drainage system is sealed”.

In a report in August, the Environment Agency told Cuadrilla:

“You should ensure sufficient surface water run-off drainage and attenuation capacity is provided at all time, to avoid water pooling on site and/or ditch overflowing.”

In that report, the EA added:

“Contingency plans should be in place to cover periods of heavy or prolonged rainfalls and any changes in normal operations.”

Details of permit breaches over surface water

27 February 2017

Silt from the Preston New Road pad entered tributary of Carr Bridge Brook. The EA said a treatment method for surface water did not provide sufficient treatment to prevent silt entering the tributary. Link to Environment Agency Compliance Assessment Report

2 March 2017

Escape of surface water from the well pad containing silt into tributary of Carr Bridge Brook. The EA said silt overwhelmed a low bund and escaped into a header drain that collected surface water. Link to Environment Agency Compliance Assessment Report

14 June 2017

Cuadrilla reported during a site visit that silt contaminated water had escaped via an electrical conduit into a tributary of the Carr Bridge Brook, in breach of two conditions of the permit. Link to Environment Agency Compliance Assessment Report

The other permit breach concerned waste storage.

  • Drone footage has recorded standing water on at least the following dates in 2017: 15 February, 25 February, 10 March, 23 June, 9 August, 17 August, 31 August and 25 October.


30 replies »

  1. We did Paula. My version states “subsequently a bath tub etc”, perhaps your version is different? These type of requirements are widespread and you can find similar along most motorways, except they usually have a filtration system to prevent the need to keep emptying. .

    As I stated, a minor house keeping issue that needed some further tweaking to get it right. EA are on the job, and assisting in this and maybe further tweaking will be the result.

    You want to use the EA to censor and restrict. In these sort of matters that is really a last resort and there seems to be genuine communication to make sure this aspect of the site is as good as it can be.

    Keep it going. If there is a genuine significant problem in the future though the antis will have already built a reputation for exaggeration and fabrication (remember Skinner Gate?), so you are only muddying your own waters (couldn’t resist it, sorry.)

    • Martin. You refer to ‘ Skinner Gate ‘ and the ‘ exaggeration and fabrication ‘ by the antis. May I ask, did you personally visit Oxcroft and gather information first hand from all interested parties that has led you to these untrue conclusions. Or perhaps you prefer to pontificate on a series of incidents of which you have no first hand knowledge.

      • Refricktion… Funny how we get chastised for pointing to the American issues with fracking – because it’s all going to be different here (somehow – according to the pro-frack mob). Then you guys turn around and point an American O&G propaganda site stating something that actually is different here. England is already getting past the point of needing to replace big dirty old coal fired power-generator plants. Drax is already planning its coal free future. Still I’d be interested in the US figures from non biased sources. Sadly the EPA can no longer be considered in that category.

        • Philip P, Funny how the website I reference actually links to EPA data, not a pro-fracking study. Drax’s coal free future is being built on wood chips my good friend. And now they’re looking at gas conversion. People in the US actually consider the EPA to be very anti-fracking biased. Pruitt won’t change the minds of the technocrats that operate within his agency.

          • Refraction
            Chatting to a Drax chap, they certainly feel let down by various governments. Trouble is they are a one trick pony.
            But they are looking at converting a coal fired boiler or two to gas. Forget high efficient HRSG type plant, just substitute a big jet of gas for a jet of coal flame. It makes money as you charge a kings ransome for inefficient power when there is a shortage, plus a bung for being available it seems.
            Strange times indeed. I think they should move slowly, as coal fire may not go as fast as they think.
            Germany like it, and you can store a lot of coal on site in case of supply disruption, something not as available for gas.

  2. It is worth understanding that certain of the replies you see here are nothing other than negotiation techniques. Look at this site and you will see the terms used by certain posters continually, and then realise its just a technique, a game in effect.
    This only works if you are not conscious that such a technique is being used.

    Do you recognise terms in the link? Excitement, win win, win lose, belittling and emotional labelling, attempts to minimise the situation as being of no importance, etc etc.

    Interesting isnt it?

    All are useful clues to show that the poster is attempting to “play” the perceived opponent to gain a level of advantage, just realize its just a game.

    These attempts at damage limitation are just standard corporate practice, it has to do with nothing other than attempted denial of responsibility and has no contractual relevance to the operation.

    If you attend many meetings with contractors you see this as nothing more than the first line of opening of defence negotiation, its just standard rhetoric, its a game, it means nothing more than that. Its a business, its just offer and counter offer.

    The contractors know that you know that they know, but they will try it anyway, they just hope that an inexperienced person will let that sway them into acceptance or minimising the penalties, or not take the breach further. They know its just a ploy, and its a joke in effect.

    Its standard NLP and management and negotiation speak really, you can spot it a mile off.

    Don’t be fooled into playing by their rules, play them at their own game.

  3. Keith-sorry to disappoint you, but the fabricated version has been investigated, by the real parties concerned, and they have identified what really happened. If you want to believe some fictional account, you will, but it will not turn fiction into fact. I would have thought the antis were committed enough without being fed such a diet, but perhaps you fear that is not the case. I suppose that will only multiply as the date for gas production continues to move closer.

    But, keep it going. It is all good information for the exploration companies files. I have suggested before the tactics used by the antis would need to be modified with Ineos, but I knew they would not.

    • Martin. I notice that you have not answered my question- did you or did you not visit the site and gain first hand information? I live there and I know the residents well. To say they give ‘fictional accounts’ is both untrue and insulting to their integrity. If you wish to accept the versions put out by ‘ the real parties’ then that is your right. My conclusions are at least based on first hand knowledge.

      • Martin. Your trust in the information put out by the cooperate world does you credit. Unfortunately that trust is, at times, misplaced. The naive assumption that comments made by ‘companies’ must always be factually correct is worrying. Companies only tell you what they want you to know and will miss out what you need to know.

        • Keith Atkin
          While it may seem like splitting hairs, Martin referred to the Antis spreading exaggeration and fabrication, not specifically the residents of the estate. So they do not stand accused.

          That a few anti sites, jumped the gun, assuming INEOS had caused the problem. The information is on various web sites so a site visit is not required to view it.

          If there is evidence that the breach or issue was caused by Seismic Surveying, it has yet to be aired on this site.

          What I have seen, in my opinion, is a diliatory response from the water company, and a less than sympathetic approach from INEOS.

          I hope their water is now running clear.

  4. Don’t criticise what you don’t understand. Bob Dylan

    The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury. Marcus Aurelius

    In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. Theodore Roosevelt

    Only the mediocre are always at their best. Jean Giraudoux

    If the world is hurting you, go out and change the world, if you are hurting the world, don’t be surprised if the world comes knocking at your door. Phil C

    Have a great Sunday with family and friends.

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