A 2.9ML tremor centred on Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool was felt across Lancashire this morning – the largest so far induced by fracking in the UK.
People as far away as Preston and Chorley reported the tremor at 8.31am this morning.
They described it as “very frightening”. There were reports of loud rumbling and houses and furniture shaking.
Local campaigners against fracking said residents were “sick of being treated as human guinea pigs” and called for an immediate ban.
The British Geological Survey (BGS) first recorded the tremor at 2.6ML but later upgraded it to 2.9ML. The organisation’s website crashed for a while as people tried to find out more details.
The BGS gave the tremor an intensity of 5 on the EMS Intensity scale, from 1-12, where 12 is the strongest. The scale describes a 5 tremor as:
“The earthquake is felt indoors by most, outdoors by few. Many sleeping people awake. A few run outdoors. Buildings tremble throughout. Hanging objects swing considerably. China and glasses clatter together. The vibration is strong. Top heavy objects topple over. Doors and windows swing open or shut.”
Cuadrilla resumed fracking at its Preston New Road site on 15 August 2019. Since then there have been more than 90 tremors.
The company said in a statement this morning:
“Cuadrilla is aware of a seismic event which occurred at about 8.30am this morning in the area of our exploration site in Preston New Road, near Blackpool.
“We can confirm that no hydraulic fracturing was being carried out at the time and no hydraulic fracturing has been carried out over the weekend.
“We are investigating the event alongside the regulators who monitor Preston New Road. Updated information will be posted here as soon as we have it.”
A spokesperson for Preston New Road Action Group, the campaign representing people living near the site, said:
“At 2.9ML, this is the largest fracking induced earthquake to have happened in the UK, it is very frightening when you hear a loud bang and things in the house rattle.
“Given that this quake was felt across Blackpool, the Fylde Coast and beyond, what is likely to have happened beneath the ground to the well at the source?
“We should not be being subjected to this level of stress and fear. So many people have felt it and are trying to log it that it is proving difficult to get onto the British Geological Survey site. Fracking must be stopped immediately.”
A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said:
“This morning, there was an earthquake measuring 2.9ML. This is the largest ever recorded in the area and human-induced from fracking operations.
“It was felt in Wesham, Kirkham, Lytham, Wrea Green, Blackpool and as far away as Chorley. As yet, Cuadrilla have failed to respond to this event but we call upon the government to halt fracking operations immediately.
“Lancashire voted against this at every level of local government but national government over-ruled and have repeatedly given us bland re-assurances about “gold standard regulations”.
“Enough is enough. People are cowering in their homes and just waiting and wondering when the next quake will be and how much damage it will cause.
“We call upon our local MPs to come off the fence and press for an immediate ban on fracking. We are sick of being treated as human guinea pigs.”
DrillOrDrop understands that the most recent fracking at Preston New Road was on Friday. Since then, there have been tremors measuring between 0.5ML and 2.1ML.
This morning’s tremor was considerably bigger than the previous strongest linked to fracking. This was also caused by Cuadrilla in Lancashire. This measured 2.3ML and changed the shape of the wellbore.
We have asked the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for a statement. We’ll update this post as new information comes in.
Updated 28 August 2019 to reference the EMS Intensities scale.