Disappointment at no plan for further groundwater monitoring at former fracking sites

Cuadrilla fracking site

Preese Hall. Picture by Cuadrilla Resources

Campaigners against fracking in Lancashire have said they are disappointed to hear there will no further groundwater monitoring at two of Cuadrilla’s former shale gas sites.

The Environment Agency has confirmed that it had no intention to carry out the monitoring at the Anna’s Road site, near Lytham St Anne’s, and at Preese Hall, Weeton.

Fracking at the Preese Hall site was linked to earth tremors in the Blackpool area in spring 2011. A Government-commissioned report on the incident found there was deformation of the well casing at Preese Hall but not loss of well integrity.

Responding last week to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Environment Agency said:

“We have assessed the information provided by Cuadrilla for the Preese Hall site, and no impact from the drilling of the borehole has been detected, and the one year’s monitoring post abandonment also showed no impact on the ground water.

“The groundwater monitoring was undertaken between 26 November 2014 and November 2015, on a quarterly basis. Results were delivered quarterly by agreement with the Environment Agency.”

Annas Road REAF

Anna’s Road. Photo: Ribble Estuary Against Fracking

At Anna’s Road, Cuadrilla announced in November 2012 it was discontinuing the well because of concerns that cement had not adhered evenly to part of the casing. During tests, a packer became trapped.

In 2013, the company said it planned to frack a new well at Anna’s Road (link to press release) but latter announced it was pulling out of the site because of “technical constraints related to wintering birds” (link to press release).

In the FOI response, the Environment Agency said:

“The site at Anna’s Road was abandoned after penetrating the base of the Permo Triassic Sandstone. The holes were not Hydraulically Fractured.  At that time no permits were required from the Environment Agency, and we have no data in respect of groundwater monitoring at this site.”

“For wells drilled prior to October 2013, we issued a regulatory position statement which covers the requirement for appropriate decommissioning to ensure the risk to groundwater is controlled.”

Frack Free Lancashire

A spokesperson from Frack Free Lancashire said:

“We are disappointed to learn that there will be no further groundwater monitoring at the Cuadrilla fracking sites at Anna’s Road and Preese Hall.

“We consider that the Environment Agency has a duty to local residents to maintain a post-operational monitoring regime especially when, as at Preese Hall, the fracking operations were abandoned after they caused earthquakes. We think that there is an ongoing risk of structural failure and therefore of water contamination.

“Unfortunately, the regulatory authorities have limited resources and are clearly not equipped to maintain a rigorous monitoring regime. It does not bode well for the monitoring of many hundreds of fracking sites across the Fylde which is what Cuadrilla are aiming for in the very near future.”

Updated 31/5/2018: Correcting the address of the Preese Hall site


4 replies »

  1. Disgusting attitude by Cuadrilla,and another roll over and play dead rubber stamp job by the EA. Groundwater monitoring must be mandatory and unavoidable before, during and after the entire process and for 10 years or more after operations have finished.

    Anything less than that is criminal avoidance of responsibility. The only world standard regulations that exist it seems are how to get out of being responsible for anything other than making money.

  2. “We have assessed the information provided by Cuadrilla” says it all. Of course they will never be economical with the truth to try to avoid their responsibilities, will they? Independent assessment is essential.

  3. Fools gold standards. I have yet to see any evidence that supports the world class gold standards claim. Where is the actual analytical evidence?
    And does anybody really think that Cuadrilla would share negative information with anyone, considering how long it took them to come clean on the ‘earthquake’ event.

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