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 According to the visit report, management plans held in the site office were out of date.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.”