Third Energy warned over two more permit breaches at fracking site

180320 KM Eddie Thornton

Third Energy’s KM8 site at Kirby Misperton in March 2018. Photo: Eddie Thornton

Bunding designed to prevent pollution at Third Energy’s fracking site at Kirby Misperton was in such a poor state during part of last month that it would not contain a spill, according to a warning from the Environment Agency.

The agency said there was no evidence of a spill or any pollution but the company had not followed an agreed management procedure.

This represented two breaches of the environmental permit. Third Energy was instructed to reinforce the bunding and ensure that all temporary agreements were adhered to.

This latest incident means there have been four permit breaches at the site in six months. DrillOrDrop previously reported on two breaches in October 2017.

The details of latest breach were uncovered during a site visit by Environment Agency (EA) on 19 April 2018. Third Energy was waiting for a Government decision on its hydraulic fracturing plan for the KM8 well. It had released most of the equipment but still had chemicals on the site.

The official report of the visit recorded:

“The temporary bunding was not secure and would not contain the chemicals in event of a spill. There was no evidence of a spill or environmental pollution but the agreed management system had not been followed appropriately and the containment was in a poor state.

“A site warning is given in response to the poor state of the bunding and failure to adhere to the temporary arrangement in place.”

Under the action point, Third Energy was told to:

“Reinforce bunding and ensure that it is fit for purpose and secure.”

The form noted that an operator had arrived to start this work as the EA were staff were leaving.

In October 2017, the EA recorded breaches at the KM8 site for:

  • Not operating to approved management procedures
  • Not maintaining records on monitoring

There had been complaints about an unpleasant smell coming from the site earlier that week. After the incident, monitoring data showed a rise in hydrogen sulphide levels, although alarms on the Kirby Misperton site did not go off. One woman attended hospital  and has received ongoing medical attention. DrillOrDrop report

The EA made an unannounced visit to the site on 20 October 2017. According to the visit report, management plans held in the site office were out of date. It also recorded that operating procedure for dealing with surface water was not on the site and staff were unfamiliar with it.

All four breaches have been classed as level 3, where level 1 is the most serious and level 4 the least. The EA says a level 3 breach could have a minor environmental effect.

Alan Linn, Chief Operating Officer, of Third Energy, told DrillOrDrop:

“In the 23 years that Third Energy has been producing gas and electricity in North Yorkshire, it has never caused a serious, Category 1 or Category 2 environmental incident nor has the Environment Agency taken any enforcement action.

“During a visit to the KMA well site in April 2018 to observe an operation relating to conventional gas production, as the regulatory body the Environment Agency identified two minor permit non-compliances relating to the KM8 frac project.  These were reported as category C3 “a non-compliance which could have a minor environmental effect”.

“The Environment Agency noted that there was ‘no evidence of a spill or environmental pollution’.  The necessary remedial action was started the same day by Third Energy when the Environment Agency was still on site.

“The general public should be reassured by this evidence of both the rigorous and meticulous nature of the Environment Agency’s inspection regime and their commitment to publishing their work in regard to onshore hydraulic fracturing operations.  This includes providing public access to inspection reports and publishing details, including full data sheets, of the chemicals to be used in the operations.”


15 replies »

  1. This is typical of the oil and gas industry , breaches are generally ignored or at most a don’t do it again warning . They can’t afford to do things by the rules so they cut corners.

  2. obviously no exceptions for this, but its not the end of the world is it? haha there’s not going to be any spills if they’re not extracting.

  3. “Breaches are generally ignored”.

    An operator had arrived to start this work as the EA were leaving.

    Good to see how on the ball TE are, compared to the general!

    System seems to be working fine, with the operator quick to respond. Almost Gold Standard.

    • Alternatively after two inspections and numerous breaches on both occasions you could say the operators display a systemic inability to implement the required policies and procedures to adhere to ‘gold standard’ regulation.

  4. what exactly is likely to spill the site has been moth balled waiting for the government to get its act together.

  5. So, what was going to be the first fracked well for 6 years (who knows now) has repeatedly flouted regulations – even though all parties know how sensitive site this is to the future progress of the industry. TE know the rules, or if they don’t they ought to, yet they flout them, knowing that they could be inspected at any time? Is it because they know its not regarded as “serious”. But a spill could contaminate good farming land, damage wildlife, potentially contaminate water supplies. And what would happen with industry plans for thousands or wells. Would there then be enough inspectors. We know in the US that there have been major violations with too few inspectors when large scale fracking has been undertaken. Dismissing violations as “minor” is PR exercise. Do you trust this industry to not cut corners when no one is looking. And we know, even if they do follow “the rules”, there will still be unacceptable air pollution and significant methane escaping. This company does not communicate in a timely way with the local community when dreadful smells are emitted causing great anxiety to the community. Third Energy are simply not trusted in our community, and this is another nail in the coffin of their reputation.

  6. I guarantee I could find at least five sites within a small distance of my home which exhibit such non conformances-usually with regard to storage of diesel, either not bunded, the bund full of water, or the bund damaged.

    Most of the good people of Yorkshire, who live in a rural environment, know the reality of these situations and will plonk a nail in the coffin of the scaremongers.

    • So because you are aware of other site that are in breach of regulations that’s all right then. Your statement would seem to imply the regulators are too stretched to undertake their statutory duties. Doesn’t sound very promising at all Martin probably last thing the regulators need is the expansion of an industry which demonstrates a track record of wilfully failing to comply.

  7. Who said it was all right? Neither is it alright for someone to spill diesel on the forecourt of my local garage. The EA were on site at KM, not at my local garage.
    Why would anything imply regulators are too stretched? They picked up the non conformance and it was rectified the same day.

    So, the system is working. That sounds pretty promising. Are you really suggesting non conformances do not happen on sites on a routine basis? Careful-one of my sons works in the building industry, and I worked in agriculture all my working life.

    Equally, what about the non conformance when the roads are salted? Are the EA there recording how this will cause environmental damage? Yes, it does. I pay out several hundreds £s every year to maintain an oak tree along the roadside that suffers routine die back caused through salting the roads.

    Maybe that’s why it is difficult to excite the two thirds?

    • “I guarantee I could find at least five sites within a small distance of my home blah blah blah” , this indicates the regulator are unable to manage existing work loads.

      “Most of the good people of Yorkshire who live in a rural environment know the reality of the situation blah blah blah”, this indicates you think non compliance is the norm and therefore OK

      All your words Martin.

      The rest of your reply is usual unrelated tosh to deflect from the foot in your mouth.

  8. Pathetic!

    It indicates nothing of the sort.

    Most of the good people of rural Yorkshire know something about agriculture, and how many minor non compliances could be found on an average farm. Certainly the ones I know, do so. Unrelated? No, real life. My parents owned a farm for around 40 years-not one visit from the EA. No bund around their red diesel tank. No pollution of the environment. Was the regulator unable to manage existing work loads? No, just prioritising areas that should be a priority. Isn’t that what GPs do, for example? (Hopefully, a reference the non rural folk will understand.)

    Please persist in trying to make out that standard gas sites (no fracking has taken place) are somehow unique in this respect. The only unique bit is they get more inspections than some other sites. No problem with that.

    No wonder you are all so depressed when you think the general public will accept such nonsense for one situation, when they know the reality around their everyday life.

    Yes, my words, your interpretation. The two thirds will understand my words, the one third might be excited by your interpretation, or maybe a few of them. Perhaps some of the reason the ratio is what it is, and nothing to do with investments, intelligence or denying climate change?

    • Perhaps you could do with visiting your GP Martin, I am sure they would be happy to prioritise your losing your grip on reality. It may be related to the pollution your grew up around on the farm thanks to Mr & Mrs Collyer Seniors poor working practices.

  9. Martin I can hear the call to go play with your crayons…
    I think its about time you left this column to those trying to make a difference..
    [Edited by moderator]

    • If anyone wondered, the above is not from me.

      Actually i prefer everyone to be free to have their say, otherwise we are down the In Junk Sham road and i am absolutely opposed to that.

      What happens after everyone has had their say, is of course, what makes life interesting?

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