Revealed: INEOS secret court evidence on hazards of shale site materials

171117 KM Natalie Bennett Maple Indie Media

Former Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, at Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton site. Photo: Maple Indie Media

The shale gas company, INEOS, has said some products which may be used at a proposed exploration site could cause cancer or birth defects if “permitted to escape”. They could also lead to mutations and were toxic to plants and animals.

Other items were corrosive, flammable or could cause serious damage to eyes, the company said.

The list of substances and their hazardous properties was included in a statement submitted to the High Court for a secret hearing in July when INEOS sought an injunction against anti-fracking protesters.

The statement was signed by Tom Pickering, the company’s Operations Director, and was used by INEOS in support of its case for the injunction preventing interference with its shale gas activities.

After a request by DrillOrDrop, the court released the document.

The witness statement included a table of seven possible chemicals and products which may be used at Bramleymoor Lane, a proposed shale gas exploration site on the edge of the village of Marsh Lane in north east Derbyshire. INEOS proposes to drill a vertical coring well at the site but not to carry out fracking.

The table gave details of the potential use of the products, their likely volumes and “the possible hazards to humans if such chemicals are permitted to escape”.

170723 Tom Pickering witness statement 2 extract 1

Extract from witness statement by Tom Pickering, Operations Director of INEOS Shale

DrillOrDrop has been unable to find references to any of the products’ hazardous properties in publicly-available documents from INEOS about Bramleymoor Lane.

What INEOS told the court

The items in the witness statement included: lubricating oil (new and waste); diesel; oil-based mud and cuttings; oily rags and absorbents; and used oil filters.

The main hazardous properties for all these items were listed by INEOS as: ecotoxic (harmful to plants, animals and the environment); carcinogenic (cancer causing); mutagenic (increasing the frequency of mutations) and teratogenic (substances that can disturb the development of an embryo or fetus or cause birth defects). Diesel was also described as flammable.

Other products and chemicals in the table were: caustic soda, which was listed as corrosive, and biocide, which was said to have a “risk of serious damage to eyes, sensitising, harmful”.

Bramleymoor Lane possible chemicals

Redrawn table of possible chemicals and substances that could be used at Bramleymoor Lane and their main hazardous properties. Source: Witness statement by Tom Pickering

In his witness statement, Mr Pickering said:

“The biggest risk/most dangerous substance on the list is diesel, as it will be in bulk tankers which could cause a major pollution incident should the tankers be tampered with.

“The oil based mud and cuttings, although legally classed as a hazardous waste, are less dangerous but would still require a major clean-up operation – during the drilling stage there may be many lorry loads of these materials leaving the site every day.”

170723 Tom Pickering witness statement 2 extract 2

Extract from witness statement by Tom Pickering, Operations Director of INEOS Shale

Mr Pickering said in his witness statement that he was concerned about risks of trespass at Bramleymoor Lane and two other potential sites during the construction phases.

“INEOS is therefore making this application [for an injunction] in an effort to minimise the risk of a future trespass occurring and to ensure that, should a future incident occur, that INEOS can move quickly in enforcing any order made by the Court.”

He also said:

“I have considerable concerns for trespassers entering the operational Sites who are not aware of the risks presently in existence in addition to those risks that will materialise as the projects develop.

“It is self-evidence that such risks will be greatly exacerbated by trespassers accessing and occupying these sites.

“In addition, dangers caused by trespassers can also result in dangers to Site workers, given the risk that they may interfere with equipment and machinery used by contractors and workers on the sites.”

What INEOS told the public


EIA screening report Bramleymoor Lane

Screening report

In Jan 2017, the company submitted an environmental impact assessment screening report to Derbyshire County Council as the first stage of the planning application process. Only one of the seven items in the witness statement– oil-based mud and cuttings – was mentioned in the screening report. The report did not mention the hazardous properties or any risk from protesters or trespassers.


An exhibition about the Bramleymoor proposals, held in April 2017, described how INEOS would protect the environment at the site. It said drilling muds and fuel for the rig and generators would be stored in double-skinned steel tanks. Drip trays would be provided under refuelling points and standing machinery. But there was no mention of any hazardous materials held at the site, any hazardous properties or the impact on human health.

Environmental permit application

In May 2017, INEOS applied to the Environment Agency for a standard rules mining waste permit for Bramleymoor Lane. This identified spent drilling mud and drill cuttings as extractive waste that would be covered by the permit. But there is no reference to their hazardous properties or the risk of trespass or protest.

The permit does not class as mining waste any of the other substances mentioned in the witness statement (lubricating oil, diesel, biocide, oily rags and absorbents and used oil filters) so they are not mentioned in the application.

Planning application

Bramleymoor Lane planning statement

Also in May 2017, the company submitted a planning application for Bramleymoor Lane to Derbyshire County Council. The application for a vertical exploration well (but not fracking) included an environmental report and a planning statement.

The environmental report mentioned only diesel and drilling mud/cuttings from the list in the witness statement. It did not describe their hazardous properties. The planning statement mentioned diesel but only in relation to mobile generators and with no reference to any hazards. Neither document mentioned the risk of protest or trespass.

The environmental report said “embedded mitigation measures” would prevent groundwater pollution from spillages and the handling/management of drilling fluids and cuttings.

The planning statement concluded:

“This development will not result in any effects which would undermine human health”.

It also said:

“INEOS has considered human health in relation to contamination. The risk to human health from on-site sources of contamination is considered to be low.”

And it stated:

“Pollution control and potential health impacts can be addressed satisfactorily through planning conditions and other regulatory regimes.”

The traffic management plan for Bramleymoor Lane, an appendix to the environmental statement, did not mention risks of transporting substances with the hazardous properties referred to in the witness statement. It also did not mention the risk of protest.

Why was the injunction needed?

Rolls BuildingEdit

Last week, the High Court extended the interim injunction sought by INEOS against protests at potential shale gas sites, including Bramleymoor Lane. DrillOrDrop report

The company had told the High Court at a public hearing in October that it faced “a real and imminent threat” of being targeted by unlawful protests.

Lawyers for two campaigners who challenged the injunction had argued that this risk had been overstated. They described the evidence presented by the company as “flimsy” and “exaggerated, tendentious and selective”.

DrillOrDrop asked INEOS to comment on the hazards identified in the witness statement, though not in public material. We also asked why the injunction was necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the company’s mitigation measures proposed to the Environment Agency and Derbyshire County Council.

The company said:

“INEOS Shale is being targeted by hardcore activists and we have a duty to ensure our operations remain safe despite their unlawful actions. We do not apologise for this – it is simply the responsible thing to do. And it would be irresponsible if anyone engaged in scaremongering or took these issues out of context.

“INEOS is one of the UK’s largest manufacturing companies and safety is always the highest priority. We have the expertise to safely carry out all of our activities. We adhere to all UK regulations and ensure that our day-to-day activities are carried out in the proper manner.”

On the transport of hazardous substances and the traffic management plan, INEOS said:

“The safe transportation and storage of fuels and chemicals is a crucial part of this planning. This is no different to many other businesses and this type of transportation happens millions of times every day across the UK, in industries as diverse as supermarkets, construction and petrol stations.”

Jon Mager, an opponent of shale gas developments who attended the injunction hearing, said:

“Tom Pickering’s Statement of Truth suggests that INEOS, despite adherence to regulations and ‘best practice’, cannot keep their well sites safe and secure.

“These authoritative statements of the fact, from a Director of INEOS Upstream, suggest that the company, and all other companies involved in shale gas exploration in the UK, have withheld the whole truth about their operations.

“They also suggest that the shale gas industry harbours concerns about the safety and security offered by current regulations. The statements also call into question the reliability of traffic management plans to ensure the safety of transport routes with consequent risk to residents and all road users.”

41 replies »

  1. This astounding revelation should begin with at the minimal distributing everyone in the village some PPE for when they come home from work or Mothers and Children who are at home every day. Isn’t this site some a couple of hundred metres from the village itself? Or maybe they should just the whole thing down. How an earth have the locals not been told about this?

  2. Excellent report, uncovering the spin and duplicity behind this industry. So much for all chemicals used will be ‘non-hazardous’. It seems that this Ineos injunction might actually have been the something of an own goal. How will they ever get local people to agree to this now? [Not that they ever would before, of course].

    • Molehill, meet mountain. Mountain, this is molehill. You two should get to know one another as you are viewed as the same on DoD.

  3. Amazing! We need an injunction to keep people away, because they might come into contact with the toxic chemicals we’re using on the site! We pump a fossil fuel into the ground, Diesel, in order to extract a fossil fuel from the ground! Laughable!

    • It has also become clear this last week that even if toxicity from fracking carcinogens in water air and land causing health problems is revealed and prosecuted, the governments criminal privatisation of the public forensic laboratories has rendered any likelihood of proof of that liable to convenient falsification of data by the corrupted privatised laboratories?

        • Hehehe. I know. It is boring and elementary. But somehow and unfortunately some of your anti frackers buddies still dont get it.

          • Dear oh dear, what a waste of time and energy even talking to you lot is, its like watching lead paint peel, but, to try and drag you out of the trough and into the light of reason, i suppose i had better try one more time, but this is the last time hear? From now on you are on your own.

            Here goes, pin back your lugs take off your blinkers and hang on to your comfort blanket, its going to be a rough ride.

            Its you triple A TPD’s that dont get it, the time for fossil fuel oligarchies is over, this desperate In Junk Sham only goes to prove that, we move on or we drown in our toxic waste, look at the oceans the land, the air, all polluted for profit, the weather has drastically changed to the point where it is fluctuating wildly, that will only get worse if we dont stop this insanity now, once and for all, and i mean all.

            The biggest polluter is the worldwide corporate ohandgee industry, even the Saudi’s are getting out of oil into renewables and big data. look at the the new city planned called NEOM, all on totally renewable energy sources.

            Water is the other premium crop now, the corporations are sucking up as much as they can all across the world, and that is why one of this disgusting industry agendas, is to poison our natural water supply whilst they are operating, because that will leave us in the hands of their corporate owned water oligarchies and controllers and that is one of the little understood reasons for all this poisonous waste being pumped into the ground.

            The high level nuclear waste dumping is a real proposal in spite of all the denials we see here, its a taboo subject, because the ramifications are too disastrous for the industry, it will be the worst realisation they can have so it is denied at every turn. The plans for that are all ready deep in the darkest halls of UK and Europe board rooms as we speak, the north of England is the intended wasteland target, even their words betray that. And that is why they wont give up their sites to restoration, they have other more lucrative plans for them..

            You lot really ought to raise your noses out of the trough once in a while and for a second look around you at the people farmer walking towards you all with his sharp long financial knives, the financial abattoirs are waiting eagerly with open doors just for comfort blanketed blinkered trough dwellers such as you lot. The screams will be heard for miles.

            Wake up and smell the mercaptan, or you will be just one more candidate for financial meat on the bone.

            That was the last time, any more stupid comments and i will just laugh at you and think of the fate ignorance will bring.

            [Typo corrected by moderator]

  4. My “toxic waist” is non of your business, PhilipP.

    There are various sites to dispose of “toxic” waste from industry, PhilipP. You should know that if you have researched the subject at all. If fracking does develop in UK maybe it will produce a demand that results in some of those waste plants being expanded, ie. more jobs! You will find that is a factor in almost any industrial development, so perhaps better not to focus too much upon it as all you will prove is that it is a factor to deal with, and when doing so, creates jobs. Something your anti friends want to dismiss. Don’t want you falling out again.

    Do you seriously think that “toxic” waste is not produced from almost everything we do, and produce? When you flush the toilet, that’s it then? Err, no. It disappears off to a TOXIC WASTE DISPOSAL PLANT. Other Toxic Waste Disposal Plants deal with other material.

    You can continue to try and conflate issues as much as you like, and you will excite some to think the diesel on site will not be used for plant and equipment AS STATED, but will be pumped into the ground, but then some wiser souls may take a look at a building site and see a diesel tank there for the diggers etc to access, and see that construction requires fuel to power construction machinery. Shock, horror.

  5. Sorry Martin. Didn’t mean to bring your personal waist into the picture. Hmm let’s see – toxic waste fluid and sludge by the millions of gallons, that’s a lot of trucking. A messy business no doubt, and with a significant radioactive component. Love the way you describe it as simply ‘disappearing’ into a Toxic Waste Disposal Plant. Pure magic!

  6. Well PhilipP, when I flush the toilet it does disappear. The result of a balanced diet, low in fat. But then, unlike some, I have never seen a benefit in the sawdust filled latrine. I know it destroys my eco credibility, but hey ho. I will fall back upon my Hybrid “cool” against the diesel “hypocrites”.

    Thank you for verifying my point about attempts to conflate issues. And pleased you have finally decided that UK fracking will be economic, and that the truckers will be recruiting. A triple whammy! (Mind you, injunctions could reduce police overtime, so not all good on the economic side.)

    • Thanks for confirming that you care little about this Martin. Someone may have the answers that clearly you don’t. Half the Preese Hall waste evidently got dumped (surreptitiously ) in the Manchester ship canal…. a miniscule fraction of what will have to disappear if fracking goes ahead in earnest.

  7. Oh dear PhilipP. You seem to want to ask questions and ignore suggested answers. (I live quite close to a facility that disposes of very toxic waste. My son lived very close to it. They are available and a bit of research will show that.) You state “facts” which are repeatedly shown to be erroneous.
    That is not meant as a personal attack because you are certainly not alone and the “tip Sellafield waste down a pipe” brigade are widespread, and it now seems you have excited some to think that diesel on a construction site is for the same purpose!

    Is your side of the debate that insecure that either it requires such silliness, or is it that it continues to require false stimulation? Whichever it is, it may have sufficed in the past but against a £500m budget and injunctions, you will require something more.

    • Much as you would like to equate such silliness to my arguments and observations Martin I’m afraid you won’t be able to, but you will of course keep making those asides as a diversionary tactic especially when there are hard questions or even simple statistical knowledge asked that you wish to avoid. Why for instance do you equate anything I have said with diesel being on site is for the purposes of tipping it down the bore-hole, or that I have stimulated such thoughts. Ridiculous.

      It is lamentable that some protestors get absurd notions in their heads or make inflamatory statements like the hyper-reactive PhilC saying ‘dangerous fracking carcinogens soon to be pumped into our water’. These things play directly into ‘your side’s’ justifiable claim about the scaremongering on ‘our side’. You are sounding a note of defensive desperation when you try and lump all protesting individuals into one single minded group that you then have to make claims about – regarding their collective ignorance. Both unobservant and intellectually lazy.

  8. You seem to have a certain myopia PhilipP. I made a statement and said it was not a personal attack, but you want to see it as such.

    The subject of this section from Ruth is about materials planned for storage on Ineos sites and their assertion that damage to the storage of those materials could be dangerous. One of those materials listed was diesel, and indeed Ineos specifically referred to why it would be there and the dangers of tampering with that storage. Any knowledge of a drilling site would supply the knowledge of it’s purpose. The same material that is stored on nearly every farm in the UK and would create big issues there if the storage was targeted, and damaged.

    If you scroll up this section you can clearly see how more than one seems to have little idea around the use of such materials, or has not even read Ruth’s article. You can also quite easily see the silliness over the last few days around “oil prices dropping” and “Ineos shareholders”. (Not accidental, for a purpose.) I don’t read the other comments you refer to, so have no idea what they may contain.

    I comment on what is posted on DOD, and have stated several times in the last few days that I have sympathy for locals with genuine concerns, but that is not the content that is produced here. The majority has become fake hyperbole to simply excite. I recognise that has become necessary, but there are a few of us who will correct it, otherwise the whole subject becomes fiction.

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