Two more breaches of permit rules at Cuadrilla fracking site

181018 pnr Eddie Thornton 3

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site near Blackpool Photo: Eddie Thornton, 18 October 2018

The Environment Agency (EA) has reported two minor breaches of the Cuadrilla’s environmental permit when it carried out a site visit at Preston New Road in October.

The findings, published in the agency’s Community Update for the site, follow  seven permit breaches during 2017.

The first breach came to light on October 19th after measurements close to the site boundary recorded low levels of methane.  The levels were significantly below anything which could affect human health or risk an explosion.

EA inspectors determined that the problem was caused by the use of non-enclosed storage tanks to hold fluid returned to the surface.

Cuadrilla had said it did not expect methane in the flowback fluid. But the EA said the action breached section 4.5 of the Waste Management Plan which states that:

“Flow back shall be stored at the surface in enclosed steel containers on top of the well pad membrane and within the perimeter fence line.”

The incident was classed as a level 4 breach, the least serious in the four-step Compliance Classification Scheme.

The EA asked Cuadrilla for more details on the tanks being used, including their configuration, use and control. This has now been provided and the report stated:

“The Environment Agency has been reassured by Cuadrilla that no further release from these tanks has been recorded.”

The second breach related to a flow meter, used for measuring the volume and rate of injection of frack fluid into the well.

EA inspectors found that the meter did not have the correct certifications. After receiving further information, the EA agreed with Cuadrilla that the meter was performing at the required level. This incident was also given the lowest Category 4 rating.


Environment Agency Citizen Space web page for Preston New Road

20 replies »

  1. “Cuadrilla had said it did not expect methane in the flowback fluid.”
    Erm, what did they expect then? After all, methane is the holy grail they are searching for.

  2. This is Cuadrilla at its absolute best in terms of compliance, knowing the spotlight is on them like never before and they still cock up. Imagine how things would be if the EA become even more stretched should further sites become active. Complacency sets in and before you know it a pollution frenzy takes hold of our treasured clean spaces.

    • Nope it isn’t great news Kish as it demonstrates Cuadrillas failure to ensure compliance. These are not near misses, they are failures and part of a clear and repeated pattern by the operator.

      Its only a matter of time until a higher level non compliance issue occurs with such a blasé attitude to environmental controls.

      • I disagree crem, it shows Cuadrillas total compliance when something is put to them.The second reporting about a flow meter showed that said flow meter was working correctly but didn’t have the correct certification; probably out of cal. It shows how much detail is getting monitored.

        • We will have to disagree because to my mind if a company has repeated compliance failures they cannot be seeen to be taking their commitments seriously and are relying on the regulator as a fail safe.

    • Not storing fracking waste water in open vessels is one of the key issues around our alleged gold standard regulation, compared to the US and other places. One of the reasons why evidence from those places is completely discounted. Therefore, was it ignorance and poor/non existant training that created this breach by Cuadrilla, or a deliberate and knowing flouting of the regulation? Considering that Mr Egan repeatedly mentions that this is the most highly regulated and monitored fracking site in the world, neither situation is impressive. What happens when the hugely cut back EA has to inspect and regulate thousands of well sites when such ignorance or lack of respect for regulation exists? They barely have the resources to regulate this one.

  3. It’s great to hear that Cuadrilla ” didn’t expect to find any methane in the flowback water” because neither does anyone else. An emminent geologist has already stated that Cuadrilla are thousands of years too late to find shale gas in the Bowland shale………I wonder what they really want to put down the wells ?

  4. If the EA did not find some minor non compliances then the antis would scream they were not doing a proper inspection!

    All pretty close to Gold Standard. Demonstrates the system is working as it should, even with the abnormal level of scrutiny upon this site.

    “It’s only a matter of time” before the continual grievance culture within the small group of antis gets no attention. Now being attempted with pathetically poor justification.

    • Typical contrarian nonsense from McFly where failure demonstrates the system is working?

      Repeated failures demonstrate that the company’s environmental systems are inadequate . No signs of improvement just consistent inability to ensure compliance.

  5. See what I mean!

    Keep it going Pavlova. You are doing more to maintain the decline in the antis then Cuadrilla could achieve with cash handouts. Maybe they will send you a Christmas gift in appreciation! (Perhaps an extra jumper.)

    • Oh dear Martin is that the best you can muster today. Go on have another try but this time try an formulate a counter argument rather than a feeble ad hom

  6. Well at least there’s the answer to my speculation the other day on what’s been happening to the gas in flowback Martin – cold venting. Next we’ll have another minor breach of disposal of flowback…

  7. How can pro-fracking commenters consider this to be ‘great news’? It just shows that Cuadrilla are either incapable of following regulations, or – more likely – consider most of them optional as they know that they will suffer no penalties apart from a bit of a ticking off. There is nothing gold standard about regulations which, when continually flouted, do not mete out effective punishment.

    • I dont think they do Ellie, its just standard defusing strategy, if something embarrassing happens, then the strategy is to claim that its actually a wonderful thing and only goes to prove that the system is working?

      We have seen that claim right here haven’t we? it just goes to prove that what is said here by the PR hotdeskers is just PR strategy and nothing else.

      That excuse is not true of course, the attempted embarrassment cover up is intended to hide that the operators are incompetent and have no intention of obeying any regulations but just pay lip service

      The EA are all ready crippled by reduced funding and staffing, now Michael Gove has taken EA staff to prop up the brexit staffing shortages due to it being a bureaucratic nightmare. So what we were all ready seeing as a failure of the EA to cover all the activities, now they are being further denuded of staff, no doubt those few left will the rubber stampers and nodding donkeys to nod any application through the overcrowded out tray.

      The last site visit was in October, and we hear about it in December? Were Cuadrilla given notice prior to the site visit, so that they could cover up any of the bigger non compliance evidence?

      But even these discovered little mistakes or oversights or deliberate attempts to bend the rules, inevitably leads to yet bigger and bigger failures, since the getting away with it only leads to the mindset that nothing will ever be done about even the biggest of failures so everything gets lax and financial considerations will take priority.

      A recipe for further disasters isnt it?

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