To be really concerned that it looks like fracking is going ahead in West Sussex

(98 Posts)
frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 12:16:42

I have been learning more about fracking (due to Cuadrilla proposing to frack just up the road from me). It seems that there are so many risks attached and the impact of fracking is not fully understood yet. The impact of fracking is far greater than being just on one small Sussex village. The whole area will potentially be transformed by numerous wells and drilling pads. The proposed site is close to Ardingly Reservoir - which provides drinking water for thousands of people in the area and is surrounded by streams which feed the River Ouse. There are many reports of fracking contaminating water supplies - rendering tap water undrinkable and harming wildlife and farmland. But it looks like the government thinks it's ok! I need to know that my water will be safe and not full of radioactive waste, heavy metals or methane and I am not convinced that Cuadrilla or the government can say that they 100% sure that it will be yet it looks like they may get the go ahead - surely that can't be right?

Snoopytwist Thu 13-Jun-13 12:56:18

What the frack? confused

specialsubject Thu 13-Jun-13 13:03:42

it is still under research, but where do you think the radioactive waste and heavy metals are going to come from?

trouble is, we all like to use lots of energy and it has to come from somewhere. On shore wind farms are useless, we are stupid enough to follow the EU directive to shut down coal stations and the ill-informed green lobby doesn't want nuclear power. (The Germans shut down their plants because of the Fukushima disaster - Germany is of course nowhere near a fault line and now they haven't got enough generating capacity).

addressing these stupidities would make much more sense. But attract fewer subsidies...

Sallyingforth Thu 13-Jun-13 13:15:00

Everything that specialsubject said. The whole subject in a few sentences.

Without energy we'll be going back to the stone age.

flatpackhamster Thu 13-Jun-13 13:23:33

It sounds like you've been reading some more blogs.

Why don't you write to the company and ask their point of view? At least that way you'd get some scientific information instead of "OMGLOLWTFRADIATIONINMYWATERZ".

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 13:30:47

Snoopytwist fracking is drilling both vertically (to around 1000m ish) and then horizontally. You then make little explosions to create fractures either side of the drill hole and these release gases. Theypump in water mixed with chemicals and sand to keep the fractures open and release the gas. The water (1000s of gallons of it) is then washed back up and stored somewhere (it becomes industrials waste)

Special subject the radioactive waste is in the returned water. It is referred to as "NORMS" - "naturally occurring radioactive material. It is underground in it's natural states however through the fracking process it is brought to the surface. My understanding is that it is a low level of radiactivity however it does render the water undrinkable. One of the greatest risks of fracking is the water spillage of the returned water - water finds water, so any spilled on the site would naturally make its ways to the streams and rivers nearby. I think the metals come from either the chemicals used to make the water more "slick" - so that he can be pumped effectively and maintain pressure when it's pumped hundreds of metres through the drill holes. Or it comes from deposits in the rocks underground, or the drilling mud (a product used to make the drill work properly).

SpecialSubject - they are still researching it and there are some criteria to making fracking as safe as it can be, but modern fracking is still a relatively new process and it's impact is not yet fully known. I don't actually want to be part of some "action research". There is almost a kind of "suck it and see" sort of approach.

Sallyingforth - we do need energy, but at what cost - do you know the impact fracking has had in communities in the US, Australia?

Sunnywithshowers Thu 13-Jun-13 13:31:03

I'm sad to hear that.

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 13:36:38

Hi flat pack again!

I'm reading lots and writing to the British Geological Society, the Environmental Agency, The County Council and DECC - aiming to find out more and get some answers regarding risk assessments to the site and the progress of planning permission. There's a lot of standard replies coming back.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 13-Jun-13 13:38:10

There's some great videos on YouTube of people setting fire to their kitchen taps after fracking in their area.

YANBU. Fracking is a pretty filthy way to get energy. In the 21st century there are far more environmentally sound ways to generate energy.

The green lobby is against nuclear for good reason, no one has really figured out what to do with the waste and decommissioning is ridiculously expensive.

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 13:40:06

Sunnywith - it is really sad. The whole area could be changed completely. And the risk of polluting groundwater is very frightening.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 13:45:59

Lunaticfringe - no not every week. Just today. Thanks for your considered opinion though. I will bear it in mind.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Eyesunderarock Thu 13-Jun-13 14:00:42

grin
By Jingo, you're right.

Fracking is very controversial, there have been a number of protests and legal judgements made over this particular episode.
Interesting that it's being done in Conservative heartland too, usually they don't like to piss off the voters quite so blatantly..

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 14:01:39

Lunatic - you don't actually have to join in a thread if you don't want to. What's your point?

Sallyingforth Thu 13-Jun-13 14:47:11

ALL forms of energy production are polluting and controversial by nature. Hydrocarbons - coal, oil, gas - produce CO2. Nuclear leaves waste. Wind turbines are inefficient and require hundreds of tons of concrete in their foundations. Concrete production is the most polluting industry of all.
Fracking is a potential energy source and must at least be evaluated. Yes there have been horror stories from the US, but I personally don't believe any videos I see on Youtube. A carefully controlled test in the UK seems sensible to me.
Our energy production in the UK is going down. We have dangerously little reserve and are dependent on Russian gas to keep our lights on. I don't want the lights to go out - do you?

MorganMummy Thu 13-Jun-13 14:49:49

Not in my backyard! I wish they could harness all the heated smugness that exists round here and use that to warm us through the winter.

flatpackhamster Thu 13-Jun-13 14:50:39

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 13:36:38

Hi flat pack again!

I'm reading lots and writing to the British Geological Society, the Environmental Agency, The County Council and DECC - aiming to find out more and get some answers regarding risk assessments to the site and the progress of planning permission. There's a lot of standard replies coming back.

But you don't appear to have contacted either the drilling company or the people that own the drilling rights. Wouldn't it be sensible to do that?

ItsAllGoingToBeFine

There's some great videos on YouTube of people setting fire to their kitchen taps after fracking in their area.

They were able to do that before fracking in their area. It's because their drinking water comes from springs which are high in methane which leaches out of the rocks.

YANBU. Fracking is a pretty filthy way to get energy. In the 21st century there are far more environmentally sound ways to generate energy.

I notice you didn't use the world 'cheap'.

The green lobby is against nuclear for good reason, no one has really figured out what to do with the waste and decommissioning is ridiculously expensive.

Arguments which can be reversed and applied to windmills, of course. Nobody ever explains how acid leaching to obtain rare earths is 'green' whereas nuclear power isn't. Nor does anyone ever talk about the quadrupling in the price of energy which is a consequence of massive taxpayer subsidies to the ecomentalist industry.

KittensoftPuppydog Thu 13-Jun-13 15:16:22

So you really think you'd get unbiased info from the drilling company???? Come on... Really?

KittensoftPuppydog Thu 13-Jun-13 15:21:55

Link to a report from greenpeace summing up the research
www.greenpeace.org.uk/sites/files/gpuk/Greenpeace%20shale%20gas%20briefing_1.pdf

Sallyingforth Thu 13-Jun-13 15:30:41

So you really think you'd get unbiased info from the drilling company
Of course not.
Neither will you get unbiased info from Greenpeace. They equally have their own agenda.
We have to look at all alternatives for energy and choose the least harmful, affordable ones.

WestieMamma Thu 13-Jun-13 15:34:59

Mocking the idea of requesting information from the drilling company because you think it'll be biased and then putting forward Greenpeace as a source of information. That's so funny. grin

flatpackhamster Thu 13-Jun-13 16:14:59

KittensoftPuppydog

So you really think you'd get unbiased info from the drilling company???? Come on... Really?

Perhaps we should only get one point of view then, to ensure that we stay properly unbiased.

TheFallenNinja Thu 13-Jun-13 16:20:33

Goody. More doom mongering.

KittensoftPuppydog Thu 13-Jun-13 16:32:45

The greenpeace briefing has points of view from across the spectrum. Its a briefing doc. That's what they do. You can also read other articles, or the articles behind this briefing doc.
The one place I wouldn't bother to go for information is a company that has a vested interest in it going ahead.

KittensoftPuppydog Thu 13-Jun-13 16:35:01

Sallying- what is greenpeace's 'agenda?'.
No corporate interests. Just the interest of keeping the planet healthy.

reggiebean Thu 13-Jun-13 16:38:45

For what it's worth, OP, I am from a town in the US that has had fracking for almost as long as I can remember about it. Yes, it's a bit of a blight on the landscape, and yes, some of the people it brings to town can be less than unsavoury, but in regards to the amount of jobs and money that it brings to the area, and the long-term benefit that comes from it in regards to cheaper oil and gas prices, it's a trade-off I'm more than willing to make. Never once have I felt a tremor due to the fracking, nor have I ever suffered from undrinkable tap water.

KittensoftPuppydog Thu 13-Jun-13 16:45:13

If you rad the. Briefing you will see that we are not in the same situation over here, especially with regards to savings and population density of target areas.

KittensoftPuppydog Thu 13-Jun-13 16:45:37

If you read...

Slipshodsibyl Thu 13-Jun-13 16:50:24

Fracking is ok. Green peace is sometimes not overly concerned with facts

reggiebean Thu 13-Jun-13 16:55:10

Kittens I live here in the UK now, and have watched all the news coverage and read plenty about it online. It's not something I'm overly bothered about, so don't plan on spending any more time reading anymore into it, especially from a source that's just as known for their mis-information as Fox News is.

My only point in posting was to say that it's not actually as bad as people are trying to make out. Fear of the unknown and all that. So, in regards to your question, yes, YABU.

Sallyingforth Thu 13-Jun-13 16:59:52

Kitten
I have nothing against Greenpeace, and raise a cheer when they save whales from the Japanese fleet. But they seem to be against every modern development on principle - particularly where energy is concerned. We have to get it from somewhere!

KittensoftPuppydog Thu 13-Jun-13 18:47:22

They prefer renewable energy sources and are concerned that fracking is not only bad for the environment but it will also stop research into more sustainable energy.
Anyway, I don't have kids, so the mess we are making of the environment is less of a concern for me. Good luck.

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 18:55:51

Morgan Mummy - It's not just my backyard. Fracking will be taking place throughout the country, they are just starting here. They have started drilling in Scotland too and SEPA are investigating methane leaks there.
Flatpack - I will be contacting the drilling company when I know exactly what it is I want to know. They have lots of PR and have held drop in meetings. They of course say that they are a very reliable company who are being very responsible with their methods. Locally we have had a lot of information from Cuadrilla regarding the process.

I have just received information from West Sussex County Council who are making decisions based on the fact that "fracking is as safe as conventional drilling" - yet there is lots of information out there saying that it isn't.

Thanks Kittensoft will look at that link.

Sallyingforth - of course I don't want the lights to go out - is there an immediate threat to our energy supply? Do we have to rush for shale gas before it's impact is fully understood? Furthermore shale gas may not solve all the problems it's supposed to - the amount of gas that's there is not really known. And yesterday in the Guardian Cuadrilla PR man did say that it wasn't likely to change energy prices signficantly if at all.

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 19:00:26

reggiebean - I have found out that fracking can be done safely. It relies on the the integrity of the well being safe, the waste management being effective, risk assessments being done properly in the local area. Also deeper fracking is safer than shallow fracking. However there is enough information out there to question whether it is always done safely. If it's safe why are France and Germany not buying into it? Why are some states in the US placing a moratorium on it?

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 19:01:06

sorry reggie bean - mis read your post

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 19:02:28

reggiebean - are you in an area where they do horizontal fracking? And how close are you to the sites? Are the residential areas nearby?

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 19:27:32

thanks for that link earlier kittensoft. V useful

flatpackhamster Thu 13-Jun-13 20:07:38

KittensoftPuppydog

The greenpeace briefing has points of view from across the spectrum. Its a briefing doc. That's what they do. You can also read other articles, or the articles behind this briefing doc.

No it doesn't! It downplays the profitability, usefulness, long-term potential and plays up the risks.

The one place I wouldn't bother to go for information is a company that has a vested interest in it going ahead.

Goodness, no, why would you go to drilling experts for information in drilling when you can get it from a bunch of swampies?

reggiebean Thu 13-Jun-13 20:10:53

frazzled1772 In regards to France and Germany not buying into it, I'm afraid I can't offer any insights to that. It's the same question as to why some people think that gay marriage should be illegal. Because most lawmakers have an agenda, and have special interest groups they need to keep happy, and it's as simple as that.

Yes, they do some horizontal fracking in Colorado. I know of at least 30 wells within 50 miles from where I grew up, and there are probably many, many more. As I said, it's not a pretty sight, which is a shame, because Colorado is a beautiful place, but it's a price (necessary, I think) that most are willing to pay. There are residential sites as close as about 10 miles from the drilling sites. There is a law about how closely they can drill to ground water wells, heritage sites, etc., but I'm not sure what those laws are.

mac12 Thu 13-Jun-13 20:33:35

OP, just to put your mind at rest - Cuadrilla is drilling a conventional well with a horizontal leg in Sussex and does not intend to frack it. You can see the details in the May 8th announcement on their website and should also be able to track the planning application via your council's website.

Sallyingforth Thu 13-Jun-13 21:28:36

of course I don't want the lights to go out - is there an immediate threat to our energy supply?
You can't have been following the news. Several nuclear stations are reaching the end of their lives, and old coal fired stations have to be closed to meet pollution targets. There is nothing to replace them and the reserves of capacity are getting very slim as demand increases. We are reliant on imported gas that is getting more expensive and could be turned off at any time. Wind and solar are unreliable and extremely expensive. They can't supply more than a tiny proportion of our needs. Something else is needed.

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 21:38:03

mac 12 - on their website and in the information they sent round they said that they are drilling to a depth of approximately 3000 feet (914m) with a horizontal arm of about 2500 feet (762m). They are looking at the following:

(1) If there was negligible oil flow the well will be capped and abandoned;

(2) If there was sufficient natural flow further exploration wells may be drilled at other locations to assess how much oil might be commercially extracted without Fracking;

(3) If there was insufficient natural flow consideration would be given to applying for permission to frack the well at a separate future date.

In the 80s the site was drilled for oil and it was found that there wasn't enough oil there to make further drilling worth while. I'm no geologist but I assume that in 30 years or so the oil levels wouldn't have increased - if they replenish themselves that quickly we wouldn't have an energy crisis.

In their literature they refer to shallow shale gases - it is clear they are on the forefront of gas extraction in the UK. As I understand it the test is "stimulating" the rock using acid - creating fractures with chemicals - not too different to actual fracking.

What's more they have detailed the depths they are drilling as 914 m but then I found this which says they are testing at a far shallower level. Shallow fracking poses a greater risk to water in the aquifer due to the faults created by fracking expanding upwards and potentially allowing methane seepage. I am looking into this discrepancy.

www.naturalgaseurope.com/cuadrilla-balcombe-test-drilling
So thank you but the fact that they are test drilling does not really put my mind at rest. It is a small step towards their final goal.

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 21:43:26

Sallyingforth - I am aware that we are becoming more reliant on imported gas, however, is there a reason why they could be turned off at any time - why would they do that? Am I being a bit naive?
I can see another solution is required - but not in haste and not one that could have a disastrous impact on our health and environment if not done in a safe, controlled and regulated manor.

LessMissAbs Thu 13-Jun-13 21:46:03

Surely the process of fracking most people cover in general science education at school? Its not a new process, its an established process in the oil and gas industry.

Natural gas is one of the most plentiful natural resources that can be used for fuel that hasn't yet been exhausted. The United States at the current rate should be totally self-sufficient in fuel by 2050. If the UK doesn't go forwards with fracking, it risks not only power cuts but being left behind as it would have to buy in fuel from other countries with little of its own production.

As for water supplies, where do you think all the pesticides, insecticides and fertilisers sprayed onto crops go when it rains?

catgirl1976 Thu 13-Jun-13 21:46:50

YANBU

We have it here (Fylde Coast) and I am vair opposed to it.

And I understand fracking very well and work in the energy industry so I am not some lentil-weaver and I don't take my information from fecking Caudrilla. It wouldnt exactly be objective would it hmm

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 22:18:24

LessMissAbs - fracking has been around for a long time in one form or another. However the recent approach of extensive horizontal drilling is relatively new. More chemicals are used now, more wells are drilled than previously hence there are more fractures made.
As for pesticides etc int he water - we the industriual waste produced in fracking is highly concentrated - it is a higher concentration of chemicals (including radioactive materials) - I don't think it's a fair comparison to pesticides.
Catgirl - I'm not a lentil weaver either. Has fracking had much of an impact on the Fylde Coast (apart from the odd earthquake) and what's the general feel about it there?

catgirl1976 Thu 13-Jun-13 22:32:50

We had the one little tremor and then they stopped for a while but they are about to start again. Opinion seems to be split (and lord knows the area could use some jobs etc) but there is a strong opposition.

But with Caudrilla making sizeable donations to the Conservative party I doubt a few earthquakes and potential damage to the water supply will stop it sad

catgirl1976 Thu 13-Jun-13 22:34:16
Takingbackmonday Thu 13-Jun-13 22:38:34

Ys YABU

Green peace are vested interest and deeply corrupt.

We need shale gas.

Takingbackmonday Thu 13-Jun-13 22:39:52

The green agenda is a complete farce. Every job in the 'green' economy costs 3 in the real economy,

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 22:46:19

There does appear to be a very cosy relationship between the Conservative Party and Cuadrilla :
gasdrillinginbalcombe.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/balcombe-mp-appointed-cuadrilla-director-to-government/
Is this info correct? It is just a blog...
Catgirl - I don't know what to say, it seems that they are going to go ahead regardless. I think we are not that far behind you down here. I think opposition is fairly strong, but people are just kind of trusting the processes - if the council say its safe and ok they'll go with it.

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 22:49:23

we cross posted catgirl!

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 22:50:51

Taking Back: Green Peace have a hidden agenda??

catgirl1976 Thu 13-Jun-13 22:52:21

Great minds frazzled smile

Binkybix Thu 13-Jun-13 22:55:48

I don't know anything about fracking but if I were trying to find out unbiased info I would not rely on the company doing it or Greenpeace to provide that (at least not as exclusive source of info).

LessMissAbs Thu 13-Jun-13 22:58:10

I actually think pesticides running off into the water supply is a huge problem frazzled and is tolerated at measurable levels before the water authorities react. Fluoride is probably far more harmful to general health as it is now thought to be associated with thyroid disfunction.

Do you really think that the release of highly radioactive material into the atmosphere would be permitted? Fracking does not necessarily produce radiation, it depends on the area. And estimates of radiation levels produced have been reduced. I assume if you are serious about reducing your exposure to reducing air pollution levels you inhale, you avoid travelling in traffic and live in a barely populated area (where radon gas is not emitted from the local rock or building materials?)

There are existing remains of shale from mining still on the surface in parts of the UK which are densely occupied, but they are not in the south east of England which has largely escaped such processes. Shale extraction is not new in this country, but again has not been a feature of the south east.

Do you think methane release from fracking would go anywhere near reaching the levels of methane gas released by cattle?

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 23:03:38

Binkybix - I don't know where the unbiased info is. There's loads of info about how bad fracking is - personal accounts, facebook sites, anything related to the government has a political agenda, anyone related to oil has a financial agenda. The Royal Geological Society? Maybe they are the people who know?

Sallyingforth Thu 13-Jun-13 23:05:50

Frazzled why would they do that

Politics. Being dependent on Russia for our energy means we are reliant on their goodwill. If we upset them they can put up the price or turn the tap. We will be powerless (pun intended).

LessMissAbs Thu 13-Jun-13 23:15:19

There loads of info about how bad anything is from those sources frazzled.

DrSnowman Thu 13-Jun-13 23:18:09

Well I would not trust Greenpeace to be even handed on oil / gas / radiation. Greenpeace has a vested interest in campaigning against oil / gas and nuclear.

The oil / gas industry does produce radioactive waste it normally has the code name NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material) or sometimes the code name TENORM for NORM which has been concentrated by an act of man.

NORM tends to be a bit more nasty than most of the radioactive waste from a nuclear reactor. NORM tends to include a lot of long lived alpha which can include radium/radon which has very nasty chemistry. The radioactive waste from a nuclear reactor is mostly shortlived beta which is less dangerous to health (alpha is 20 times worse than beta), the alpha activity in used nuclear fuel tends to be mostly plutonium which is far less dangerous than radium. Also the plutonium in used nuclear fuel is in a very non mobile form, the Pu in used fuel or MOX will not pass through soil or dissolve in water.

Both the beta and alpha active isotopes also have an equal likelihood of emitting gamma rays.

I think that people from the nuclear sector (both industry and the government regulators like the NDA) are more trustworthy than the Greenpeace people. Also another trustworthy group are university academics who work with radiation / radioactivity in their professional life.

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 23:18:36

LessMiss - this is the type of pollution I'm talking about:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/09/epa-reports-fracking-groundwater-pollution
It doesn't say that the water pollution is caused by fracking, merely that it could be. But they don't know and it's highly political to say that fracking is the cause. More research is needed into the risks of fracking.
And in response to "do I really think it would be permitted?" - I don't think it would be allowed, but it doesn't mean that it couldn't happen by accident.
When and where exactly did they start fracking in this country?
Methane gas seeping into the water table is different to cows farting in a field.
I am not nutty about pollution, but the industrial waste water produced by fracking is an enormous quantity and the contamination levels are high.

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 23:18:53

LessMiss - this is the type of pollution I'm talking about:
www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/09/epa-reports-fracking-groundwater-pollution
It doesn't say that the water pollution is caused by fracking, merely that it could be. But they don't know and it's highly political to say that fracking is the cause. More research is needed into the risks of fracking.
And in response to "do I really think it would be permitted?" - I don't think it would be allowed, but it doesn't mean that it couldn't happen by accident.
When and where exactly did they start fracking in this country?
Methane gas seeping into the water table is different to cows farting in a field.
I am not nutty about pollution, but the industrial waste water produced by fracking is an enormous quantity and the contamination levels are high.

LessMissAbs Thu 13-Jun-13 23:24:12

Frazzled so what types of radiation are "they" talking about? What are the nuclear equations and predicted radioisotope half lives?

I assume you think that fracking in the south east of England is going to cause earthquakes, fire, floods and long term radiation poisoning. Is there any factual evidence to back up these fears, or are they just the normal psychological human reaction of part of the population to new technology, akin to fears that exploring beyond the horizon would at one time lead you to fall off the edge of the world?

I assume you are aware of the existence of the shale industry in the central belt of Scotland and the invention of paraffin by James Young?

DrSnowman Thu 13-Jun-13 23:24:14

Why should methane from a farting cow be any different to methane from a gas field.

It was shown years ago by some German man that molecules from plants/animals are not special when compared with the same substance when it was made from minerals.

DrSnowman Thu 13-Jun-13 23:26:53

The oil / gas wells might release some radium and radon, the radon tends to end up in the propane part of the gas plant.

Radium tends to stay in the water which comes out of the wells.

LessMissAbs Thu 13-Jun-13 23:30:37

Dr Snowman Why should methane from a farting cow be any different to methane from a gas field

CH4 is Ch4, it remains a saturated alkane whether it comes from a farting cow or from under the ground, with the same boiling points, reactivity and flammability scale.

It is also a very low pollutant vehicle fuel.

LessMissAbs Thu 13-Jun-13 23:31:43

And indeed radon is released from granite, which is the main building material in certain parts of the country.

frazzled1772 Thu 13-Jun-13 23:37:37

But LessMissAbs - would methane be a tasty healthy addition to the my water?
So radon gas is safe? - even if it comes up the well, spills all over the ground at the well head and gushes into the local stream and then into the river, into the reservoir? Then into the water supply? Really?

LessMissAbs Thu 13-Jun-13 23:41:46

I'm kind of lost for words Frazzled.

Redbindy Thu 13-Jun-13 23:59:16

Luddites are alive and well and living in Sussex.

MorganMummy Fri 14-Jun-13 01:08:40

frazzled,no, I know it's not just your backyard - I was sort of joking cos it's very very close to mine. I am not a fan. But I really don't know enough to evaluate the risk sensibly and see how cross to get, I will have to read up on it before the first earthquake.

frazzled1772 Fri 14-Jun-13 07:59:56

LessMiss and Dr Snow. You obviously have a lot relevant academic knowledge. I am going to look further into the chemicals that are used (by the thousands of gallons, to wash into the wells and also try to find out what comes back out again and how Cuadrilla manage this waste. If you would care to apply your scientific expertise to answer this particular question I would appreciate an educated view on the safety of these fluids. Thank you.

LessMissAbs Fri 14-Jun-13 12:04:27

Frazzled I am absolutely not some kind of scientific academic (my field is a type of social science) - this is simply basic science knowledge that I gained at school. Its not my job to educate you about things like gas and air being different or the entire potential chemical reactivity of a range of substances. I don't have the time, but I suggest if you are interested, you do some general reading about the basic chemical elements such as carbon, oxygen and hydrogen and their properties, and then consider the issue of fracking.

My viewpoint remains that the small risk of potential harm can be managed and tested sufficiently so as to be outweighed by the potential benefits, that progress always involves some slight step into the unknown but these days plants and processes are so sophisticated compared to the past, and that fracking is a process that has been around for years.

frazzled1772 Fri 14-Jun-13 13:23:16

LessMiss I do understand that gas is different to water. I like a gin and tonic, the bubbles in it are gas the stuff around it is liquid. There are incidents of methane bubbling into water supplies. It travels through fracking faults into the aquifer or the ground water. If you pour the liquid into a glass it is bubbly - not quite like a g and t but tiny little gas bubbles. It happens. You can prevent that by making sure you drill deep enough - there is mixed information about how deep Cuadrilla a drilling and how far away it will be from the aquifer.

And returned frack fluid is a huge volume of industrial waste which will need to be disposed of somewhere somehow.

Morgan Mummy - that's what I am trying to do now - finding out. It's a minefield. I would love it if someone could categorically say there is no real risk - someone who wasn't attached to the industry or the government, who has examined both sides and who really knows what they're talking about!

Sallyingforth Fri 14-Jun-13 17:06:08

I would love it if someone could categorically say there is no real risk
Well that won't happen. Of course there is risk.
There is risk from coal mining, oil drilling, conventional gas extraction, nuclear power, wind turbines...
There is risk crossing the road.
The best you can hope for is that the degree of risk is quantified and found not to be excessive.

fromparistoberlin Fri 14-Jun-13 17:07:50

noone wants fracking
noone wants windfarms

so just pay for more Russian and Saudi gas then?

we need energy, altough I am keen to know what long terms risks really could be

DrSnowman Fri 14-Jun-13 22:17:02

I have to disagree with LessMiss, it is not the case that you can do a little general reading and be able to deal with the matter. I am strongly in favour of the general public empowering themselves by learning about issues such as fracking, GMOs and nuclear technology.

But to expect the general public to deal with it on their own is not reasonable, I am a university academic so I regard myself as one of the few truly neutral experts. I am neither in bed with the "Greens" or "industry". I have dealings with both sides but I am very much my own man, nobody ever gets to tell me how to think !

The problem with fracking is that a wide range of different chemicals can be used to do it, also the stuff which comes out of oil / gas wells ranges greatly from one gas / oil field to the next.

If I recall correctly fracking tends to use a mixture of sand (or some other inert solid) and some other chemicals, the problem is that the list of chemicals is long and contains a host of things which range from innocent and playful to some real nasties.

I think that you should make an environmental version of a freedom of information request to your local authority. Use the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 to ask the local government for details of what substances will be used for the Fracking, also ask what will be discharged as waste. Also ask how the waste will be managed.

If the local authority have not got data for the oil level in soil and water, I would suggest that they should start looking for it or requiring the oil / gas company to give them the data.

If they do not have the data then for petrol and other oils in soil/water I would suggest that if the local authority / oil company do not have data then they should go for gas chromatography. I would suggest for benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene (BTEX) that they test river water and soil with headspace GC (this is to petrol in soil as the breath test is to a drunken driver). While they should extract soil samples and test these by GCMS. Water is not a good place to look for oil but soil from a spill site is a good place to look.

A paper was written about BTEX and fracking related spills (S.A. Gross et. al., Journal of the air and waste management association, 2013, volume 63, issue 4, pages 424-432).

If you are concerned about the radioactivity, then ask how much radium, uranium and other radioisotopes will be released during the fracking operation.

If nobody knows then I would suggest that either ask the oil company to find a reputable lab which can test drinking water for radioactivity. Then get them to test the waste water.

My first guess would be

If I was in the lab, I would shake 1000 ml of waste water with small volume of a solvent extraction reagent in a glass bottle. I would then use a sample of the extracted liquid for the LSC measurement. If you use a long counting time per vial then it should be possible to detect radium at low levels in water.

For heavy metals in water released by the frackers, I would suggest that ICPMS or ICPOES should be used to look for the heavy metals. If anyone wants to collect a water sample, I would suggest a precleaned polyethene bottle. The bottle needs to be washed out many times with super pure nitric acid before use, also shortly after taking the same some super pure nitric acid should be added to keep the metals from sticking to the walls of the bottle.

For a list of chemicals used in fracking see

democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Hydraulic-Fracturing-Chemicals-2011-4-18.pdf

frazzled1772 Fri 14-Jun-13 22:23:09

Here 's what's in flowback frack fluid:
www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Business/6th_Dec_-_Shale_gas_-_North_West_-_Monitoring_of_flowback_water_-_update_(3).pdf

There will be approximately 40-60% of 10,000 to 30,000 tonnes of this fluid coming up out of the well over a period a few weeks to a few months. It is to be stored on site and then moved (somewhere?)

DrSnowman Fri 14-Jun-13 22:44:02

I have looked at the data in the link, the radioactivity level in the water is low. One of the water samples did have radium in it, I expected that radium would be one the radioactive things to look for.

It is below the 400 Bq per kilo which is the UK lower limit for radioactive waste rules for many types of waste.

The water which came out of the well is very saline, I am glad it is being stored in double walled tanks. This greatly reduces the chance of a spill.

The document did not give any details of which additives were used for the fracking operation, I think that these details should be released to the public.

I would be interested to know what the level of oils and other organics are in the water which came back out of the gas wells.

frazzled1772 Fri 14-Jun-13 22:51:59

Hi Dr Snowman

The documentation I have about what goes in is as follows:
99.75% is water and sand
.075% polyacrylamide friction reducers
.0125% hydrochloric acid
.005% biocide (used on rare occasions when the water provided from the local supplier needs to be purified further.

I'll see what I can find out about oil levels and other organics ..

frazzled1772 Fri 14-Jun-13 23:01:10

Dr snowman - I hadn't seen your previous post before I posted the link. Thank you for your input. That's all really really helpful.

Sallyingforth Fri 14-Jun-13 23:11:20

All very interesting. It's astonishing the vast range of chemicals being used in the US.
To my less than expert mind the output from the North West test doesn't sound unacceptable if properly treated, but it would be wrong to extrapolate this to Sussex if your geology is different.

DrSnowman Fri 14-Jun-13 23:15:03

You need to find out which biocide was used, biocides range from some harmless pussy cat ones to some raging tiger nasties.

I suspect that the will not have altered the rocks much with a little hydrochloric acid. But in east Germany at one uranium mine they used so much sulphuric acid that it got into the ground water (back in the days of communism). They added so much acid that it was not consumed by the reactions with the rocks in the mine.

You should ask the question of what is the buffering capacity of the minerals in the area which is being fracked, this will give us an idea of how much acid the rocks can absorb / tolerate.

If you add so much acid that it overcomes the buffering capacity of the rocks then metals can become mobile and escape from the minerals into the ground water.

frazzled1772 Fri 14-Jun-13 23:18:46

Sallyingforth - apparently the rock around here is more porous - I think it's a lot of limestone. Apparently this poses a greater risk of fractures lengthening, which in turn presents a greater risk of the fracking chemicals seeping into the aquifer. I am sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong about that.
There are rumours that Cuadrilla have "lost" a lot of fluid somewhere from the Blackpool site i.. I have no idea if this is true or part of a drive to discredit the company... more research!

frazzled1772 Fri 14-Jun-13 23:20:46

Dr Snowman - we crossed again....

Sallyingforth Sat 15-Jun-13 09:55:54

DrSnowman
Why is the biocide needed? Is it to stop some form of fermentation below ground, or to clean up the effluent?

frazzled1772 Sat 15-Jun-13 10:55:37

Just so you know what I'm up to, I intend to compose letters and emails with those questions - I'll come back when I've heard back. Thank you again.

DrSnowman Sat 15-Jun-13 17:56:03

The environment agency document stated that the biocide was used when the tap water used for the fracking needed to be purified before use. I still have no idea what biocide it was.

Sallyingforth Sat 15-Jun-13 19:10:55

So the tap water - that we drink - is not clean enough to be pumped into the ground? That's incredible. It's already been chlorinated.

frazzled1772 Thu 20-Jun-13 10:55:13

I have had a blanket response to my email as the EA are getting a lot of enquiries at the moment.

complexnumber Thu 20-Jun-13 14:44:13

I may not agree with frazzled points of view, but I am loving the way she is argueing.

So many of us could learn to provide evidence before opinion.

Sallyingforth Thu 20-Jun-13 17:45:36

If anyone missed the TV programme on fracking last night it's being repeated later tonight.

frazzled1772 Thu 20-Jun-13 18:44:29

I thought is was interesting programme - reasonably balanced, it explained some of the findings (including the flammable drinking water) and posed some interesting questions. I think the question of long term impact on a local and a global level was interesting and the fact that the health impacts on people living near fracking sites was very difficult to fully understand at this point in time. Leaky wells seem to be the key issue in the states. In the UK he pointed out that we have tighter regulations however there is no one regulatory body concerned with fracking. It is currently overseen by the EA, the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the Health and Safety Exec, with the local county councils being responsible for planning permission for drilling sites. It's a lot of agencies and I am not sure where the real expertise regarding fracking lies.

frazzled1772 Fri 21-Jun-13 16:52:25

This has cheered me up a little - tighter regulation is required to make sure that fracking is done safely.
blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/geoffreylean/100222841/drilling-set-back-regulator-caught-out-as-fracking-opponents-draw-first-blood/

frazzled1772 Tue 02-Jul-13 22:21:54

Dr Snowman, Cuadrilla have replied and said they will not be using biocide in their proposed exploratory drill at the Balcombe site. They will be drilling vertically then horzontally and then "washing" the bore hole with a 10%hcl solution. They did not disclose to me the biocide used in Blackpool. I will continue my pursuit of this information. Cuadrilla are applying for a waste removal permit from the EA for the Lower Stumble site in Balcombe which is now available online to comment on. This seems like an appropriate opportunity for me to raise some of the questions again as they have to respond.

frazzled1772 Thu 01-Aug-13 08:48:39

Been a long time... but Dr Snowman - if you're still there - should Cuadrilla undertake soil testing before they drill? This is their baseline water and air testing - have they covered it all?
balcombeparishcouncil.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/interim-pre-drill-environmental-monitoring-report-31-07-13.pdf
They have only just released this in response to media pressure.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now