“Living in fear” – residents respond to 1.6ML fracking tremor


pnr 190820 Ros Wills

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool, 20 August 2019. Photo: Ros Wills

Cuadrilla has been accused of trying to downplay last night’s 1.6ML earth tremor caused by its fracking operation near Blackpool.

The tremor, at 8.46pm, was the largest so far recorded at the Preston New Road site since fracking began there in October 2018.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) gave it a 3 on the EMS Intensities scale, where 1 is the lowest and 12 the most intense. The BGS said the tremor was felt and heard by people living in Westby, Weeton, Wrea Green, Blackpool and Lytham St Annes. Cuadrilla compared it to a large bag of shopping falling on the floor.

Another tremor, measuring 0.9ML, was recorded at 10.42pm last night. DrillOrDrop 2019 tremor tracker

Last night, campaigners called on Cuadrilla to publish the results of its well integrity checks at Preston New Road.

“Fear of damage”

One resident said today:

“We heard and felt the tremor. It was a loud rumble and shudder. We realised immediately what it was.

“We are now living in fear for the next one to happen wondering what damage it will cause to our home and what damage is being done below the ground.

“Any below the ground damage may not manifest itself for a long time. Who will resolve any issues that may appear in the future? Why would anyone want to cause earthquakes on purpose?”

Last night’s tremors happened after fracking operations had ended for the day and were described as trailing events. Because they measured more than 0.5ML, Cuadrilla must pause fracking for 18 hours.

This was the first required pause in the operation to frack the second well at Preston New Road, which began on 15 August 2019.

Local engineer, Mike Hill, said of the tremor:

“The 1.6ML event was strong enough to damage the well.

“At the local area where the quake occurs (2 miles down not the surface where it is measured), the energy released is focused much more strongly on the well bore and this can severely damage it. So to the well it is more like being hit by an articulated truck than a bag of shopping.”

“Tremor regulations must not be relaxed”

The campaign group, Frack Free Lancashire, said:

“Having abandoned their attempts to frack their first well after only being able to fully fracture just two of the planned 42 stages, Cuadrilla are now trying to repeat the process.

“There was, therefore, a certain grim inevitability to last night’s events, but what should really give local residents pause for thought, is the fact that these were trailing events and there is nothing that can be done to mitigate them in real-time.

“We deplore Cuadrilla’s attempts to downplay and trivialise these quakes by making facile comparisons with milkshakes and bags of shopping being dropped. This is a serious issue and we know that seismic activity at similar levels deformed the well bore at Preese Hall, which Cuadrilla failed to report to the relevant authorities for six months.

“This is, in fact, a perfect illustration of why the limits on the seismic traffic light system must not be relaxed. The safety of residents must be prioritised before a private corporation’s greedy drive for profits at any cost.”

Gina Dowding, Green Party MEP for north west England, said:

“It is simply astounding that Cuadrilla feel they are able to pass off the very real concerns of residents, regarding the seismic events that are being caused by fracking, comparing tremors to like “dropping bags of shopping” or the equivalent of a glass of milk shaking on a table – these are both responses that Cuadrilla deem to be suitable as “reassurance” to residents and the communities around their Preston New Road site.

“Earlier this year, former energy minister, Claire Perry MP said that: ‘It would be a very foolish politician who would do things that would be considered to be relaxing regulatory standards when we are trying to reassure people about safety.’”

“And yet, the fracking industry is heavily lobbying the government to shift the seismic traffic light system so that they would be able to cause larger tremors.

“This is not in the interests of the community and the government should strongly refuse this request, and not renege on their previous promise to maintain the current regulatory standards.”

The shadow industry secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, said:

“For residents of Lancashire that do not want earthquakes to become a part of daily life, do not want the air pollution, water pollution and climate change caused by fracking, I have a simple message: vote Labour. Labour will ban fracking”

“Cuadrilla cannot keep to regulations”

Jamie Peters, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:

“It’s obvious that fracking can’t be done without triggering earthquakes.

“This latest quake is a sign that Cuadrilla just can’t stick within the regulations they agreed.  Even small vibrations at ground level can be the sign of far more damaging impacts deep underground. Earthquake regulations must be maintained for the safety of local communities.

“52 seismic events in just 6 days of fracking and now the biggest earthquake at the site clearly underlines that this is absolutely not the time to start weakening regulations.

“Fracking just isn’t part of the future if the government is serious about avoiding climate breakdown, in fact it defies belief that the oil and gas industry think they are part of a response to climate change. It’s time to ban climate-wrecking fracking and back renewable energy and green jobs instead.”

Third trailing event

A third tremor, measuring 1.03ML was recorded at 15.23 GMT. This also counted as a trailing event. It was also felt by people living near the fracking site. The BGS said this had an intensity of 2.

A local resident said:

“This is the second earth tremor that I have heard in the space of two days. The fact that this latest one has occurred well over 24 hours since they last fracked emphasises the fact that they have little control and our concerns are increasing.”

Frack Free Lancashire said in a statement:

“Cuadrilla’s Francis Egan has been giving bland reassurances all over the media that ‘minor movements of this level are to be expected’.

“In spite of this we have now had no less than 3 seismic events which have exceeded the red level of the traffic light system since they stopped pumping yesterday afternoon. There have also been 2 amber level events.

“When events occur after pumping there is absolutely nothing that Cuadrilla can do to control them, and it is becoming abundantly clear that Cuadrilla are not able to frack at Preston New Road without triggering this type of event.

“Frack Free Lancashire now calls upon the government and its regulators to put an end to this experiment in which local residents are the unwilling guinea pigs. It is time to put this ailing industry out of its misery.”

Updated 23/8/2019 with details of a third trailing event and on 28 August 2019 to reference the EMS Intensities scale

More details on the 1.6ML tremor

103 replies »

  1. Hmm, it seems that unspecified fictional shopping bag was dropped on the floor of a marauding articulated truck that subsequently hit the wall? Clearly such analogies are pathetically meaningless in relation to the seriousness of the event.

    I noticed that the BBC (bless ’em) quoted continually that it was a 1.5ML event and not as the BGS clearly show, that it was a 1.6ML event, maybe that extra 0.1ML made it sound more serious? Even Cuadrilla claimed it was a 1.55ML event which contradicts and attempts to minimise the terminology of rounding up an event to the nearest decimal point, as specified clearly by the BGS.

    Curiouser and curiouser?

    The fact remains however, that the local residents are not in the least bit fooled by Cuadrillas attempt at obfuscation and minimising the 1.6ML event.

    Also there is something to say about the fact that the 1.6ML event was a “trailing event” so perhaps that articulated truck had a trailer as well?

    However what it does indicate, as did many of the previous events at PNR, that seizmic events resulting from fracking transmit the tremors to adjacent strata, which appears to be unstable, perhaps as a result of destabilisation of local strata fissures and fractures from those previous Cuadrilla seizmic events. And the delay of these latter transmitted events eventually reach the surface by, one assumes, the paths of least resistance, be that by reflection, amplification, absorption or by whatever other means.

    The indication is that much more serious events are taking place below ground at various locations as a direct result of the fracking activities, and that may over stress subsequent strata and weak fissures and fractures untill that seizmic event eventually reaches the surface.

    The comments by the local resident,

    “We heard and felt the tremor. It was a loud rumble and shudder. We realised immediately what it was.

    “We are now living in fear for the next one to happen wondering what damage it will cause to our home and what damage is being done below the ground.

    “Any below the ground damage may not manifest itself for a long time. Who will resolve any issues that may appear in the future? Why would anyone want to cause earthquakes on purpose?”

    Also the comments from Mike Hill, and Frack free Lancashire are therefore entirely true and apt regarding the obfuscation of Cuadrilla which is frankly insulting childish, unscientific and irresponsible.

    Maybe we will hear again, that by now familiar Cuadrilla battle cry of:

    “Run Away!”

  2. Thanks, Phil C. Any bets on the Johnson ‘government’ being prepared to resist industry lobbying on seismic limits? Might require integrity!

    • Hi Iaith1720,

      I suspect that “integrity”and “Boris Johnson” are mutually exclusive and possibly do not even exist in the same universe. And that is at least as exclusive as “Caudrilla” and “integrity”….

      No, i suspect he doesnt even understand why such a thing as integrity is remotely important or relevant at all?

  3. As I have said before I would not like nor accept hearing a loud rumble and feeling a shudder under my home. Completely unacceptable. And the fact industry try and play down these events must make people very angry indeed.

    • Yep, KatT, they are livid in London! And New York, and Moscow, and Paris etc. etc. Must be so cheap to live in those places that people just accept the issue. LOL.

      • Martin Collyer with his ridiculous comparisons! You choose the city life, you can expect pollution, air, light and noise! Why would you be livid?

  4. And just inland from the fracking site Residents are also quite rightly in fear!

    In fear of repeats of the contrary to Regulations release of airborne cancer causing toxic byproducts of this next phase of the Cuadrilla fracking tests!

    Don’t be diverted away by irrelevant media headlines, this is the only story that matters on the Fylde at the moment!

      • Benzene causes cancer and is found in gaseous fracking byproducts!
        Do you actually know anything about this topic, Eli-Goth?

        • Benzene? In what concentration and how do you believe this will get in to the ecosystem 2000m deeper than the aquifer?, peter please tell me at what depth is the aquifer at PNR?
          What about bleach chlorinated chicken, which is also for the country you spout so highly about? Cancer??

          • Eli-Goth,

            ‘Benzene C6H6 Fracking’ search will answer your questions!

            I’ve not bothered with your Yankee chicken stuff, it’s not relevant to our discussion or Drill or Drop.

          • “Benzene. In what concentration?” There is no safe level of exposure to benzene. I’m sure some people are exposed to,it at some time but that doesn’t make it safe.

    • This is Roger Hallam, of XR, now i dont agree with everything Roger Hallam says, but it is clear that without working together to challenge and answer these gross insults by the fossil fuel industry, the politicians and the bankers, that we are merely propagating the situation if we only talk about it, interesting though that is.

      The result of doing nothing but talking about it, may be far worse than we can can imagine.

      Not very enjoyable i will admit, but necessary to say at least, regardless of how you take it.

      • phil c and Roger Hallam’s life experiences, career and credibility is, exactly?
        Roger Hallam wasn’t he one of the ones dragged away from the Shell HQ for causing millions of pounds of vandalism and damage, he’s doing a PhD in Effective Radical Campaigning??? That’s a credible association to be offering these types of courses!!
        His stated ambition for the group is to ‘bring down all the regimes in the world and replace them’, starting with Britain.
        Haha.. The world has literally gone to the dogs. [Edited by moderator]

        • And there you see it ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Ele (extinction level event) clearly has no argument whatsoever, and has to resort to derog-a-tory remarks against the credibility of the writer and anyone else.

          Ele, that is clear desperation and mere avoidance of addressing the problems that face us all, but clearly you are a denier and you cant address the problem at all, now that would be far too dangerous wouldnt it?

          Do you want to question my credentials perhaps?

          I have said this many times before, but you are a upstart newbee, so i will say it again, I got my masters degree in engineering probably before you were born, and since i have taken two more degrees and about seven other post grad subjects, many of those i doubt you even have the intelligence or the scientific knowledge to understand, let alone pronounce them.

          But unlike Nick, i dont wear my heart on my sleeve and consider my wife and family, and everyone else’s family of more worth and value than gong qualifications from any academic discipline to flash around to attempt to try to impress anyone. I moved beyond that when a saw my first child born and two more since.

          The sticky subject you avoid is why we are experiencing such a plunge into destructive climate change and extrapolating that into the near future, the very near future. That is the science as was detailed only recently.

          If we do not fundamentally change our entire civilisation and the way we treat the planet we live on, we have no planet “B” to fly off to. if we continue in this present suicidal self destructiveness, we will not have a civilisation to emerge from, all your rights and freedoms will evaporate and we will have chaos and war, death and destruction and finally the completion of the 6th and last extinction event for humans.

          The present system contains an enormous inertia to change and its almost all about self greed and money and self serving insanity. That must change, there is no choice about that, the planet we live on must come first, but first you have to understand just how bad the situation is, yes its scary at first, but then you will want to do something about it.

          Your resort into personal abuse is a clear indication that you do not, or cannot, or will not understand, and that is sad and essentially self destructive, but however that is your choice, no one can make it for you.

          But i am an optimist, i fully believe we can pull ourselves out of this suicidal self destructive insanity that you wish to protect so bizarrely.

          Desperately clinging on to your old certainties of job and money will avail you nought, the people you so vehemently protect do not care for you any more than you care for anyone else, in fact they laugh at your subservient brainwashed ignorance and see you as just another useful idiot to be discarded when your usefulness is at an end.

          One day if you are lucky, you may have a family when you grow up, if you grow up, and just maybe you will feel the same about them and future generations as i do about this generation and future generations.

          But looking at your words here, i doubt that such a state of humanity is within your grasp at present, or indeed your capability if you do not change.

          Dont be a dinosaur.

            • The waffle is all yours as usual old thing. The real vandals are at PNR creating earthquakes Ele, i dont see XR creating earthquakes and stinking out communities, and creating climate degradation, or had you missed that entirely?

              Oh dear, not paying attention again arent you?

              Dont be a dinosaur, grow up and have a family and fight for the planet, its the only one you have got.

          • Phil C
            When dealing with the many credulous individuals such as your good self, there’s simply no point in wasting time and effort in responding objectively. [Edited by moderator] You site many qualifications, but they mean nothing as you are innately blind and benighted regarding the cause of global warming.

            Anthropogenic climate change is a nonsense! Climate change is episodic…unpredictable…and habitual (after all, there’s no such thing as non-climate change!). Moreover, the moral case for low cost, abundant, and dependable hydrocarbons is fundamentally humane as they advance civilisation. The current warming trend is greening terra firma, the sea isn’t rising to any great extent or empirical measure, nor is it acidifying to any great extent (as seawater is alkaline).

            Just be thankful that the globe isn’t going through a glacial period!

            • What an interesting unsubstantiated opinion SL? Where did Roger Hallam mention “anthropogenic”? Where did I mention “anthropogenic”

              And your incontrovertible scientifically verified evidence for your, as yet unsubstantiated opinion is??

              Please enlighten us, I can hardly wait….

  5. Amazing how they dug miles of coal mines under the North of England and guess what no earthquakes… Ruth at drilstrop scaremongering we need gas and oil homegrown not reliant on the Russians or other criminal suppliers .

    • Are you aware of the term ‘Mining subsidence’, John? At the point when the many mines that you refer to, collapse … the ground sinks as the hole is filled in by what falls from above it. If you are ‘unaware’ of ‘Mining subsidence damage’ to buildings and structures, then you’re ill equipped to make the comment that you have. The other ‘Ill equipped’ remark about ‘Ze Russians’ also calls into question, your capacity for rational thinking.

  6. Stop press. Blackpool trams caused induced surface motion today greater than a 1.6, and nobody bothered.

    • Did you get that from the BGS Nick? Please show proof of that claim and substantiate the source without a shred of a doubt.

        • That like a backstop Nick? Or maybe a frackstop? Sorry, the trams went extinct around here about 80 years ago, before my time, but clearly your memory is still functioning at least and accurately too, to be quick enough to measure the resultant seismic event?

          Is that the latest Cuadrilla analogy then? Now its a tram running over manhole analogy? Or perhaps running off the rails and hitting a bus? With a trailer of course? Now that really is a tram stop, and what about the trailer event? How did that happen?

          Listen very carefully, I will say this only once. Please show the BGS proof of your claim of a 1.6ML seismic event at this obviously dangerous tramstop tremor you refer to, and substantiate the source from the BGS without a shred of a doubt as to cause and location.

    • Little wobbles under the tram are not a problem Nick. I’m sure you know that. Different matter when the energy released in disturbed rocks at great depth is sufficient to be felt on the surface. And even more of a worry when these underground “temors” are “trailing events” where the weak and faulted shale strata is unpredictably adjusting after the initial damage.

      • Muriel, It is rocks that are not weak that store and then release much more energy.

      • Quite correct Muriel, a surface event is as nothing to a deep seismic event.

        So all these laughable claims of multiple fictitious imaginary surface phenomena analogies are completely irrelevant to a deep seismic event caused by fracking and as you say, the trailing event is proof of subsequent distortions and readjustments that could result in great damage at the surface.

          • Do you claim to be an expert in these matters Nick, you dont seem to have a very good grasp of the physics involved? What is your explanation for a trailing event? Do tell?

            One of my Masters Degree in Engineering subjects was Geology and Geo engineering related to structures Nick.

            Clearly you suffer from the same problem Ele does, you cannot conceive of anyone knowing more than you do, which is only too typical of the anti antis i see.

            Sorry to disavow you of your illusions.

            Have that BGS data on tramstops yet?

  7. Who is Mike Hill?, Who puts their credibility down as an Engineer?, He could be an engineer of computer science for all we know.
    A Pretty bl00dy useless degree in this fast moving technology era… Of directional drilling and seriously sensitive seismometers! 😉

    • I’m very surprised you don’t know. Look him up. Try seaching online for Mike Hill engineer. Highly qualified chartered engineer (C.Eng. MIET) with long experience working in the oil and gas drilling industry. Fylde resident.

        • They know Muriel, but they cannot discuss the subject, they merely attack the writer, to attempt to bury the subject under personal vitriol and bitterness. You notice that they have not actually referred to the 1.6ML event at PNR itself, anything but in fact.

          That is standard practice amongst the anti antis, we see that all the time on Drill or Drop, they always play the man not the ball, since the ball is too dangerous for them, particularly this TLS 1.6ML earthquake which they are attempting to bury under all this empty rhetoric.

          It is clearly dangerous to their credibility and that of Cuadrilla.

      • In the past the frackers have twice attempted to have his membership of (C. Eng . MIET) removed. Following lengthy inquiries both attempts to remove him were found to have no credibility whatsoever. It sounds like he’s got the frackers rattled.

      • Muriel do you realise when the oil price dropped in the downturn the UK oil and gas industry lost approximately 164,000 people in the place of months. Service companies, operators, supporting supplier, recruitment etc….
        how in the hell would we know mike hill? out of an industry which lost 164,000.
        Its not as through we are running round Glasgow looking for Jimmy?
        Not to worry come the shale industry we’ll at least recruit a quarter if not more of then back… stick in a your STEM initiatives kids and you can join the FF industry!

  8. Mag 2.4, 14Km NW of Fleetwood @ 3km depth, 11th July 2019 10.54 UTC. That’s not news either.

      • Similar geology to the Fylde & is apparently a natural event (unless crustal loading & pile driving by offshore windfarms has destabilsed the geology?). I am sorry the point was lost on Refracktion [edited by moderator]

        • Well Nick in that case if it is similar geology we might expect the same here then. I presume you are not going to suggest that wells are immune to natural, non induced, quakes are you?

          [Edited by moderator]

          • Nick – you posted elsewhere to your pro-fracky pals that

            “There comes a point where we need to be more “direct” with certain posters who inhabit this website as if they own it. Avitars “Phil C” & “Refracktion” were my opponents tonight.”

            Look – It’s not a fight Dr Many Letters. It’s a discussion but it doesn’t work if you don’t answer questions I’m afraid. That is hardly being “more direct” is it?

            By the way who ARE Local Farmer and Eddy Earthquake? I know your groupthink pals think everyone who argues against fracking is me but this is getting quite ridiculous! Perhaps you could explain to “Judith” that she is barking up the wrong tree yet again, there’s a love.

            PS it’s “avatar”

            • Thanks for posting that Refracktion,

              Since the original “conversation” is deleted, i will say this:

              I do not do social media of any kind, or post anywhere else on this subject, and what is more, i would never as a matter of personal principle, make comments or even speak about someone behind their back. Nor would i attempt to destroy someone’s professional career in some underhanded manner. I prefer to speak openly and honestly, though in these times, open and honest is forbidden.

              And this attitude, as you say, of “opposing” rather than conversing, indicates a mindset that betrays the purpose and the modus operandi we often see on Drill or Drop.

              That of deliberate combative polarisation of any issue, that of “point scoring” in order to “appear” to be “winning” rather than simply discussing an issue, that of making an issue, any issue, a personal matter, since that attempts to trigger the ego, and by doing so, to drown the issue in empty rhetoric and to avoid any mention of the issue in hand, and as we have seen, to attempt to say that only putative qualifications allow one to comment in any way whatsoever.

              There are words for that, quite specific scientific words in fact, but none of them would be allowed to be posted here.

              So thank you for that Refracktion, i had said much the same before, and now we see that openly admitted, and now we know that conversation to open up a subject, is not on the cards, if it ever was. The polar opposite of conversation is all that is allowed now.

              And looking further afield, at almost every forum, albeit politics, international relations, social media, you tube, you name it, that is what we see everywhere now.

              Interesting times we live in. Dont we Refracktion?

  9. Ha! Ha! Please provide proof of that erroneous drivel Eli!

    And there you have it ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, not once have any of them mentioned the reality of the 1.6ML seismic event in PNR, just more drivel empty rhetoric and and frankly bizarre obfuscation, is it any wonder we don’t want these creatures anywhere near the future of our children and any future generations, should they be fortunate enough to have a future that is.

    They are just not worth the effort are they.

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