Friday, 28 February 2014

Concerns over minifrac application

Rathlin Energy has submitted applications to the Environment Agency to mini-frac each of their two wells in the East Riding.

Please comment on them here.

As well as the concerns over increased traffic volumes, noise levels and light pollution, you may wish to consider these three areas of concern:

1) Pollution of the aquifer by the aqueous solution of chemicals injected into the well

The vast majority of the drinking water in East Yorkshire and the city of Hull is aquifer fed. This
aquifer covers a vast area and is crucial to the well-being of the local population (full details of the aquifer can be found on Yorkshire water’s website)

Any pollution of this precious and irreplaceable resource would be catastrophic for the local population. The exact combination of chemicals in the aqueous solution injected into the well tends to be commercially sensitive, but is known to contain a huge mixture of potentially hazardous chemicals (one such is dodecylbenzene sulphonic acid)

Even minor spills of the chemical solution at the surface or by damage to the well casing could cause long term problems for the aquifer which would be extremely costly and time consuming to correct

2) Contamination of the aquifer by the organics in oil/gas reservoirs

This is potentially more of a problem than 1) above. If oil or gas is extracted by fracking, it is possible that volatile organics such as benzene, toluene and xylene (BTEX) could leach into the water supply.

When this contaminated water is then chlorinated at the water treatment works (as is normal and a legal requirement) the BTEX chemicals will form chlorinated organics which are potentially carcinogenic

Methane will also be present and if allowed to enter the water supply and then chlorinated will form products such as chloroform and carbon tetrachloride

This is major problem for water companied in old industrialised areas such as Bradford where industrial oils and greases have leached into the surface water.

3) Air pollution

As well as issues caused by flaring off excess gas (possible release of carcinogenic chemicals etc), all fossil fuel sources contain sulphide chemicals at some level. During extraction these sulphides can form hydrogen sulphide (the bad egg gas) which is highly toxic – this is why oil installations will have hydrogen sulphide gas detectors installed.

The villages of Walkington and Bishop Burton are directly downwind of the prevailing westerlies. This could be an issue for conventional extraction as well as fracking.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Rathlin Refuses Entry to "Community" Liaison Meeting

Rathlin Energy holds Community Liaison Meetings for each well (Crawberry Hill and West Newton) to communicate it's plans to local people & parish councillors.

The minutes are published on Rathlin's website, but the meetings are held behind closed doors and only present what Rathlin wants people to hear, there is no one to provide balance by challenging what Rathlin say.  In fact it all seems to be part of their slick PR machine, and they even seem to have been using these meetings to lie to local people.
So a Hull resident turned up at yesterday's meeting, hoping to hear Rathlin's explanation for applying to the EA to Frack whilst claiming they are not, and to alert local people to this scandal.

But they were not even allowed through the door.  Polite discussions were held for a few minutes but ultimately the resident was:
  • refused entry to the meeting
  • refused a request to observe the meeting in silence to hear what was said
  • refused a request to observe the discussion on their request to join the committee
  • Rathlin representatives even declined the suggestion from a committee member to meet the resident after the meeting, so as not to further disrupt the meeting

The resident made the case that they should have been allowed to attend because:
  • to make their case for joining the committee in person, rather than via a Rathlin employee
  • there is only a short time remaining to make comments on the EA Permits, and that meeting may have been the only opportunity to discuss
  • Rathlin has already drilled through the aquifer that supplies all the tap water for the whole region
  • they have now applied to mini-frack this well, when they said they wouldn't
  • to provide representation for some of the increasing number of people in and around Hull with serious concerns

    People at the meeting said it was not appropriate to simply turn up unannounced.
    But most worrying seems to be the response of some attendees, believed to be local residents, who seem quite unaware of the lack of balance at the meetings and how they're being spun at.  Comments were along the lines of:

      "...the presence of people from environmental organisations not from the local area may effect the discussions in the meetings"
      "Rathlin have been quite open with us so far, and we've conducted these meetings in a professional manner, and we wouldn't want to change that"
      "this may not be be the appropriate forum for those concerns"

    The resident therefore pointed out that there is currently no other forum for those concerns and requested that Rathlin provide one, before the consultation period for the permits closes.

    We'll let you know.


    The Permits to Frack the wells, believed to be in contravention of the Planning Condition, are currently open for comment on the Environment Agency Website here- Have Your Say.


    4th March update: Rathlin's response:

    Wednesday, 19 February 2014

    Have Rathlin deceived community? Applications expose intention to test Frack - contradicts earlier statements - Permit now open for comments

    Rathlin Energy has applied to the Environment Agency for Permits to test their two local wells at Crawberry Hill and West Newton.  (Locations here.)

    These new Permits were required under European legislation and include the following new and specific question (see page 10 point 9.4.5):

    Will you inject aqueous liquids into the well?  For example for “well stimulation” or “hydraulic fracturing” purposes 
    This rather contradicts everything they have said on the matter so far.
    Up to now Rathlin has repeatedly and categorically stated to the local community that it has no intention of fracking. (2)

    Rathlin goes on to state in the application:
     For clarity, the intention ... is not to fracture the formation but to establish if and at what pressure the formation becomes permeable. The information gathered ... will help determine whether the formation is capable of being hydraulically fractured. Hydraulic fracturing is not being considered as part of the application which this plan supports. (3)

    But why would you want to test for fracking if you really have no intention to frack?

    The West Newton Application is open for comments now:  Have Your Say
    The permit application can be viewed in full and comments made on the Environment Agency website.


    1 - Application Form, 9.4.5

    2 - "Rathlin would be reaffirming its commitment not to hydraulically fracture the Crawberry Hill well"
    Crawberry Hill Community Liaison Committee Meeting minutes, April 2012

    "reaffirmed Rathlin‟s commitment that hydraulic fracturing will not feature as part of the plans at Crawberry Hill"
    Crawberry Hill Community Liaison Committee Meeting minutes, Feb 2012

     -"TS confirmed that fracking is not being contemplated. RJ asked if it may be considered in the future. TS said not for this well and that it was never part of the original plans or proposal."
    West Newton Community Liaison Committee minutes, Nov 2013

    3 - Non Technical Summary Mini Fall-Off Test withinUpper Visean/Lower Namurian

    Location of the drilling well sites

    Two deep wells have been drilled so far in our region.  They are:

    • Crawberry Hill just west of Beverley between Walkington and Bishop Burton.
      • OS map reference SE 97669,37720
    • West Newton North East of Hull, towards the coast, between West Newton and Withernwick
      • OS map reference TA 19268,39131

    If fracking goes ahead hundreds of wells would be required in this region alone, all over the countryside.  This is because more wells need to be drilled than with conventional drilling to access gas in impermeable rocks, and the output from each well drops quickly (by two thirds after a year).

    View the location on an OS map at Crawberry Hill,  West Newton

    Tuesday, 11 February 2014

    Letter to East Riding Councillor Parnaby

    Following the information stall jointly run by Greenpeace the Green Party and Beverley Friends of the Earth, Bill Rigby has sent the attached letter to the Council, with the petition, signed by 160 odd signatories.


    Monday, 3 February 2014

    Overwhelming support against fracking in Beverley

    Despite extreme winds there was overwhelming support from the people of Beverley last Saturday at the anti-fracking stall.
    As fast as there was room at the table, people were signing the petition and signing up to the legal blockade.

    Over 100 local homeowners have now refused permission to drill under their homes by joining Wrongmove, sending a clear message against fracking.

    Butter Cross, Beverley Market Place
    11am Saturday 18th February
    The government seems determined to try and push ahead with fracking, and there has been testing at local sites in Walkington and West Newton, but when the public understands what's involved most are opposed.

    So Greenpeace will be out talking to members of the public and encouraging them to sign up to the Wrongmove legal blockade- refusing permission for fracking under our homes.

    Meet at the Butter Cross in Beverley marketplace at 11am (the bandstand like structure).

    We'll likely move to a spot on pedestrianised Toll Gavel near the cook shop selling pricey pans.

    Do let us know if you'd like to join us, and I can send you the briefing in advance.

    Hope to see you there

    TUE 18 FEB 2014     
    FILM: Fracking in the UK 
    The truth behind the dash for gas
    7pm  Lonsdale Community Centre
    8 Lonsdale St, Anlaby Rd, Hull HU3 6PA

    Fracking in the UK : The Truth Behind the 'Dash for Gas'

    FRACKING in the UK
    The Truth Behind the 'Dash for Gas'
    A Documentary by Marco Jackson
    In December 2012 David Cameron lifted the moratorium (temporary ban) on the process known as Hydraulic Fracturing. A moratorium which had been in place since June 2011, when it was acknowledged that two minor earthquakes in the Blackpool area, had been triggered by Hydraulic Fracturing in the vicinity.

    The process of High Volume High Pressure Hydraulic Fracturing is an integral part of the extraction process for Unconventional Gas & Oil, found in Shale deposits and Coal Seams. The UK reportedly has sufficient Unconventional Gas resources to provide the Country with Energy Security for many decades into the future.

    But at what price?

    In the US, Canada & Australia, there is increasing evidence that High Volume High Pressure Hydraulic Fracturing is causing contamination of Water, Soil & Air. This coupled with the phenomenal water requirements of the Hydraulic Fracturing process may prove to have even greater negative impact in the UK than in Countries with considerably less population density.

    This outstanding documentary looks at the players behind the UK Government's 'Dash for Gas'; then draws upon two decades of FRACKING experience in the Western USA and the impact upon farming communities in Southern Queensland Australia, to consider whether this 'technology' is appropriate to be unleashed beneath the people of the UK.