Quantcast

First ‘Red’ Level Tremor at UK Fracking Site Put Legal Pause on Operations

Energy
Police officers stand near anti-fracking protesters attempting to stop a tanker lorry leaving the Preston New Road drill site where energy firm Cuadrilla Resources have recommenced fracking operations to extract shale gas, on Oct. 25. Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

The return of fracking to the UK is off to a truly shaky start.


Cuadrilla Resources was forced by law to pause operations at its site in Lancashire, England when a tremor with a magnitude of 0.8 took place in the area Friday morning, The Guardian reported.

A map showing the location of Friday's fracking-induced tremorBritish Geological Survey

The tremor was the 17th to be recorded in the area since fracking began on Oct. 15, but the first to pass the 'Red' threshold of 0.5 in the government's traffic light system, at which point operations must legally stop.

The traffic light system for monitoring fracking-caused tremors in the UK @frackfree_eu

The company waited 18 hours before resuming work on Saturday, but after operations ended at 1 p.m., another tremor was detected, The Guardian reported, bringing the total up to 18.

The Oil and Gas Authority told The Financial Times that the tremors were not cause for concern.

"Hydraulic fracturing is known to cause minor seismic events of this magnitude," the authority said. "While the operations at the Preston New Road site have been designed to minimise any disturbance, minor events like these were expected."

The earthquakes so far have all been very small, and cannot be detected at ground level. However, experts say that doesn't mean they can't cause damage.

"The practical significance is not whether these tremors are felt at the surface or not, but in the potential to damage the borehole, and the potential to create gas pathways from the shale towards larger faults, towards shallower aquifers, and to the surface," University of Edinburgh geology Prof. Stuart Haszeldine told The Guardian.

Cuadrilla also voluntarily paused operations Tuesday after a tremor registering 0.4, and British Geological Survey data shows that 23 of the 26 tremors recorded in the UK since fracking restarted occurred near the site in Blackpool, Lancashire. Fracking was originally paused in 2011 after an earthquake registering 2.3 rocked the area.

A screenshot showing the high incidence of tremors in Blackpool, Lancashire since fracking restarted in the areaBritish Geological Survey

Meanwhile, some Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) are beginning to rebel against their leadership's support for fracking. Conservative MP for Richmond Zac Goldsmith told The Guardian he was worried that the governing Tory party's support for fracking risked undermining its standing with voters.

"Fracking is an issue that has the potential to turn whole regions against the government," Goldsmith said. "The drilling rigs and pollution, the industrial equipment and sheer volume of trucks all make it an alarming prospect for communities up and down the country."

In addition to approving the two wells in Lancashire, the government also proposed this spring to change planning rules to make it easier for fracking operations to gain approval by bypassing local governments. The changes will be debated in parliament Wednesday, and more than 20 Tory MPs are expected to vote against party leadership to oppose them.

"There is real concern about the government's proposals to loosen fracking rules," Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire Lee Rowley told The Guardian. "More and more MPs are showing that they do not think the role of local communities should be reduced in such a controversial planning area."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter


georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images

By Jennifer Molidor

One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.

Read More Show Less
Edwin Remsburg / VW Pics / Getty Images

Botswana, home to one third of Africa's elephants, announced Wednesday that it was lifting its ban on the hunting of the large mammals.

"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pxhere

By Richard Denison

Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).

Read More Show Less
De Molen windmill and nuclear power plant cooling tower in Doel, Belgium. Trougnouf / CC BY-SA 4.0

By Grant Smith

From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Brett Walton / Circle of Blue

By Brett Walton

When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Gabriele Holtermann Gorden / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.

This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.

Read More Show Less
Amer Ghazzal / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.

That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.

The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.

The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.

"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."

Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice held a press conference after the annual shareholder meeting on May 22. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice

Amazon shareholders voted down an employee-backed resolution calling for more aggressive action on climate change at their annual meeting Wednesday, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Read More Show Less