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).”
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.”
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.