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 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.