Treatment site confirmed for Cuadrilla fracking flowback fluid

pnr 181225 ros wills4

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 25 December 2018. Photo: Ros Wills

Some of the waste flowback fluid from Cuadrilla’s fracking site in Lancashire was taken to a treatment centre in Leeds, the Environment Agency (EA) has confirmed.

The details emerged in a letter from an EA official to one of the region’s MPs, Yvette Cooper.

The official said:

“I can confirm that some of the waste flowback fluid from hydraulic fracturing at the Preston New Road site near Blackpool has been taken for treatment at the FCC Recycling (UK) Limited facility at Knostrop, Leeds.

“The waste flowback fluid is a brine solution containing dissolved metals, hydrocarbons, other organic and inorganic compounds, and naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM).”

EA letter on Knostrop

Extract of letter from the Environment Agency to Yvette Cooper

The FCC site was identified as a likely treatment site as far back as 2016. But Cuadrilla has not publicly confirmed the destination of its flowback fluid. It said the information was commercially confidential.

The FCC facility is next to, but separate from, Yorkshire Water’s Knostrop Sewage Treatment Works. FCC’s site has its own environmental permits and makes no direct discharges into the River Aire, the EA told Ms Cooper.

The letter explained what happened to the liquid waste after it had been treated at FCC:

“The liquid effluent resulting from the treatment process is discharged into the sewer following testing.

“The effluent from the sewer then receives further treatment at the Yorkshire Water Knostrop sewage treatment works before discharge to the River Aire. The final effluent discharged is subject to testing and monitoring.”

The EA also explained there were limits in environmental permits on:

  • levels of substances and radioactivity in the waste that can enter FCC Knostrop
  • radioactivity in the treated effluent discharged to sewer

The letter continued:

“A trade effluent consent issued by Yorkshire Water places restrictions on substances that can be discharged to sewer.

“The environmental permit for the Yorkshire Water sewage treatment works places limits on the levels of substances in the final effluent discharged to the River Aire.

“These limits are set at a level to ensure that people and the environment are protected and are not adversely affected as a result of the discharge.”


Photo: Reclaim the Power

Opponents of fracking have campaigned against the treatment of fracking waste at FCC Knostrop. They have argued that it would lead to increased traffic and the discharge of processed liquid into the River Aire.

In March 2017, an initiative called Break the Chain, targeted the treatment works and displayed satirical posters at bus stops in Leeds.

Campaigners said today they were concerned that the FCC site would take waste from other future fracking sites across northern England.

The EA letter said there were five facilities in England with permits that would allow for the treatment of flowback fluid from hydraulic fracturing. Other sites include: Northumbrian Water’s Bran Sands in Middlesbrough; Castle Environmental at Longport in Stoke-on-Trent; and FCC Environment at Ecclesfield in Sheffield.

53 replies »

    • Natascha Engel.
      It’s time to stop peddling false pro-fracking propaganda!
      You’ve been exposed as a total disgrace!

    • “Making toxic waste water from fracking good enough for your cuppa” – yes exactly, the purpose of water purification is to clean and recycle water. I’m drinking a mug of tea at the moment and it may well contain recycled urine from people and animals – the water is fine. Water treatment is a brilliant, necessary and unappreciated industry.

  1. Paul, If only the debate would move away from feelings into facts. Thank you for your response though.

    • Here are some facts for you Nick,

      Shall we look at Natasha Engel herself for a moment shall we? And who better to address that than David Kesteven of the Fracking Farmhouse, who was formerly a constituent of Natasha Engel who had been his Labour MP and had stated and written her opposition to fracking. Not only that she lost her position to Lee Rowley, the Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire who stood out against fracking.

      Then bizarrely she immediately went to work for ineos to produce a propaganda paper, but that never emerged, and then equally bizarrely, Natasha became the shale gas commissioner for the Conservative government. But appeared to be unwilling to converse with anyone but the fossil fuel operators and refused to be interviewed by Drill or Drop several times, as was revealed here on Drill or Drop.

      Then as we know, Natasha was only to “resign” after six months supposedly in protest against the governments “failure” to support fracking. That is also bizarre, since it was only the conservative/DUP coalition who were the only parties to support fracking at all, no other party would support fracking.

      Regarding the health impacts of shale gas extraction, lets go back to 2013 in USA as a start point for some clarification.

      There are more examples to follow, so i suggest you stick with it and look at these next videos.

  2. Here are some more links to the effects of unconventional gas extraction on human health and human rights to clean water and air and so on.

    Wilma Subra – Human Health, Exposure from the Development of Shale Gas Plays 2012

    Unconventional Gas – Impacts on Environmental Health and Human Rights 2018

    Dr Geralyn McCarron – The impact of unconventional gas on the human right to health 2018

    More to follow, not finished yet

    • I thought we were talking about fracking and its associated avoidances of the word Nick? Lets see the facts of the title of this website shall we:

      DRILL OR DROP? Independent journalism on uk fracking, onshore oil and gas and the reactions to it.

      Yep, its about fracking, for a moment there i thought this was a different web site? But i guess we see this diversion to another subject on Drill or Drop quite regularly and it is fairly obvious why that is, isn’t it?

      “Dont look at what we are doing here, look over there how bad is that?”

      “We don’t need to check the validity of these facts. These are not the facts we are looking for, Move along please, nothing to see here”….

      Except of course, there is something to see here isn’t there, and the attempts at diversion are really rather weak and obvious aren’t they.

      Two wrongs do not make a right Nick. There are many subjects that are ethically morally and humanly dangerously wrong in the world, and many others that are right, or left, or whatever your orientational preference is. Do you want to discuss the rights and wrongs of war and murder, crime and punishment, good and evil, creationism versus evolution, religion versus atheism, freedom versus slavery, polarised party politics versus democratic sanity, antibiotics versus natural remedies?

      If so there are plenty of other websites that will accommodate you, but here i think it is better to keep to fracking and its associated avoidances of the word isn’t it?

      Keep reading Nick, and try not to be so easily diverted.

        • Awww! Did we wake you up Eli? You must’ve fallen down the back of the sofa again? Too much of that home brew frack earth juice will do that you know?

          Hmm, a cunning little whine, from the right bank of the shale bed, the dumb side, with bitter after tastes of acidic bile, benzine and ketones….nope, 2019 is not a good year…..

          I see rational erudition and literary excellence are still much prized attributes amongst the anti antis? Oh, no, sorry that was the Krankies….but i can see the connection…

  3. Phil, not distracted at all. I am just pointing out to you that there are far more hazardous substances entering our rivers than the tiny volume of treated Frac fluid from PNR that entered the R. Aire, quite legally, from the treatment works. If you were truly worried about river pollution & exposure risks to humans & other organisms from what humans place in our rivers, then you would be much more effective as a campaigner addressing the real issues that affect our rivers, and coasts for that matter, such as the huge volumes of partially treated sewage pumped into the Irish Sea at Blackpool!!

    • Dear me, its like wading through congealed hydrocarbons sometimes.

      Your reply was a diversion Nick, the issue on this web site as indicated, is “Treatment site confirmed for Cuadrilla fracking flowback fluid”, and the degree to which toxic fracking flowback fluid waste is transported such a distance, and has to be treated to whatever as yet unspecified degree, and dumped in rivers and presumably eventually offshore into outflows.

      And preferably not drunk i would add, though i suspect that is already a worrying practice amongst those of that persuasion.

      And did you address any of the facts contained in the links i gave you that were related to fracking?

      No, you chose to say something else about anti biotics in rivers and now you seem to want to claim i should be more interested in that?

      No, the subject is as shown at the title of the page above.

      You may point away at all the other polluting stupidities of our insane isolation from the natural world if you wish, and there are plenty of those, but it still does not detract from the fact, yes, one of those facts, that the subject and your request for facts does indeed relate to fracking, and not any other form of pollution unless it is the general fossil fuel industry as a whole.

      All that is needed, is to simply turn that diversion from fracking back on yourself Nick, and say this.

      If you are so concerned about the problem of anti biotics in rivers, then go and do something about it, then you would be much more effective as a campaigner addressing the issues that you consider affect our rivers.

      But here on Drill or Drop i will continue to discuss fracking and its related avoidances of the word and the consequences of fracking in general to health and pollution and human rights and climate change and the sixth major extinction event on planet Earth to which it is related.

      Those are the subjects i provided links for your information, if you wish to comment on those here then fine, and i wish you luck with your much more effective campaign addressing anti biotics, but probably not on Drill or Drop.

      Now, back to the facts about fracking, would you care to comment on the links i provided to give you precisely, and not by any diversion onto another subject, of the facts you asked to be moved onto.

      Thank you for your response though.

      • PS, Nick, i was watching a lecture from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
        Published on 5 May 2016

        Entitled: Tim Palmer Public Lecture: Climate Change, Chaos, and Inexact Computing, which you may be interested in.

    • I wonder why so much surprise about antibiotics in rivers. Not long ago it was cocaine they were finding in the Thames.

      Not a very caring lot, us humans. But then, instead of dealing with issues of appropriate and effective disposal and treatment of material the debate wanders off onto demonising materials by vested interest groups rather than demonising the misuse. And, as a result, progress that could be made is delayed within a fog of virtue signalling rather than clarity of purpose.

  4. Phil C. As you keep going on and on about the title of this thread. The frack fluid was treated at a TREATMENT WORKS. It was discharged into the river AFTER being TREATED. The volume was tiny. Regarding your point about toxic substances being transported from Lancashire into Yorkshire – frack fluid is the least of your worries, or it should be. Your use of the words “toxic” & “dumping” are inappropriate.

    • Hi Nick, sorry i’ve been a bit busy so i was unable to spend the time you clearly deserve for looking at what you said here, so here goes.

      Where do we start? Lets have a look at your post shall we? So, you say here, i will de-capitalise the shouting if you don’t mind, its a bit early for raised voices this morning for me, if indeed at any time.

      “The frack fluid was treated at a treatment works. It was discharged into the river after being treated. The volume was tiny. Regarding your point about toxic substances being transported from Lancashire into Yorkshire – frack fluid is the least of your worries, or it should be. Your use of the words “toxic” & “dumping” are inappropriate.”

      Well i guess the best way to address that is to look at experience elsewhere, since the fracking industry in the UK is at least in the early stages, and it is to be hoped, not to be continued.

      EPA bans disposal of fracking waste water at public treatment plants

      EPA Concludes Fracking a Threat to U.S. Water Supplies

      Dangerous levels of radioactivity found at fracking waste site in Pennsylvania. This article is more than 5 years old. The Co-author of study says UK must impose better environmental regulation than US if it pursues shale gas extraction


      That’s the 5 links limit, so i will continue on the next post.

      • Fracking Water: It’s Just So Hard to Clean. I use the word toxic advisedly. My apologies for some of the titles in capitals by the way, that is just the way they are written.

        Study: Conventional drilling waste responsible for radioactivity spike in rivers
        JANUARY 20, 2018

        Pa. AG investigating wastewater case from landfill that accepts fracking waste
        Written by Reid Frazier/StateImpact Pennsylvania | May 26, 2019



        EPA Concludes Fracking a Threat to U.S. Water Supplies

        That’s another 5 links, and i didnt even have to search hard for them, i am sure you can find many more.

        So, what have we learned from these facts?

        Clearly there is a problem with toxic fracking waste water elsewhere and there are many instances of illegal dumping, fracking waste water being used for irrigating crops, fracking waste water being sprayed illegally onto roads and dumped in waste pits and in streams and waterways and forests because it gets too expensive to treat and the volumes from large scale operations are too big for the treatment plants to handle and dumping is the only way to get rid of it.

        Now you may say that the tox….fracking waste water flow back fluid is treated and can be dum….disposed of in the River Aire, hardly a clean river by the way

        From the text above, aplogies Paul and Ruth for the copy and paste:

        “The details emerged in a letter from an EA official to one of the region’s MPs, Yvette Cooper.

        The official said:

        “I can confirm that some of the waste flowback fluid from hydraulic fracturing at the Preston New Road site near Blackpool has been taken for treatment at the FCC Recycling (UK) Limited facility at Knostrop, Leeds.

        “The waste flowback fluid is a brine solution containing dissolved metals, hydrocarbons, other organic and inorganic compounds, and naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM).”

        OK (still not shouting) the question then arises, how was the waste flowback fluid brine solution containing dissolved metals, hydrocarbons, other organic and inorganic compounds, and naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) treated and to what degree and what was the final state of pollution, or otherwise of the waste flowback fluid when it was discharged? Map below:

        The treatment facility appears to discharge into River Aire, and there was a 6 mile oil spill into Wyke Beck that discharged into River Aire just over the M1 in 2018:

        So clearly the River Aire is not unused to pollution and hence the location and degree to which pollution might be discovered is somewhat remote.

        So to refer to this recent disposal and one presumes treatment to the waste treatment site at the FCC Recycling (UK) Limited facility at Knostrop, in Leeds, one must make certain assumptions:

        1. What is the degree of pollution from the raw fluid.
        2. To what degree was the fluid treated and by what method and are there records of the final outflow fluid status.
        3. If, as we are supposed to believe, that fracking eventually leads to a vast outpouring of fracking waste water flowback fluid, then will the five notified treatment plants that say they can and will treat that fluid, have the capability and capacity to do so.
        4. What about transport, accidents and in the event of treatment plants being unable to handle either the degree of pollution or the volume thereof, will that then be dumped illegally as it has clearly be done elsewhere?
        5. Who is responsible for certification of the eventual treatment and the state of the fluid that is then outflowed to rivers or the sea and will that information be made public? It is clear from the crippled state of the EA, they cannot handle such a task and experience elsewhere as stated in the links, there is very little faith in the process elsewhere too.

        A bit long, but that expresses the concerns and the doubts sufficiently for now.

        • The EA have said that SOME of the fracking waste flowback fluid has gone to Leeds. Does anyone know what has happened to the rest? Is it still at PNR?

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