Fracking firm failed to carry out proper pollution monitoring in Yorkshire; new report shows water contamination

01 Nov 2017
New report shows water contamination in Yorkshire. How can the Secretary of State give climate-wrecking fracking the go-ahead when further analysis should be carried out?

The fracking firm poised to re-start fracking in Britain for the first time in 6 years has not carried out proper pollution monitoring. Fracking contributes to climate change. A new report has also found very high levels of methane contamination in nearby groundwater. Third Energy’s waste disposal activities at a well close by cannot be ruled out as the source.

These new findings mean that fracking consent should not be granted, expert analysis commissioned by Friends of the Earth concludes [1].

Analysis by an independent hydrologist shows that Third Energy, which is awaiting imminent consent from the Secretary of State to start fracking in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, has not carried out groundwater tests for a 12-month period, as it is legally obliged to do [2].

The inadequacy of the pollution monitoring data, and the unexplained presence of such high levels of groundwater contamination, means that the Secretary of State should not grant Hydraulic Fracturing Consent: the last stage of approval for fracking, the report concludes.

The report finds that:

  • Of the 24 rounds of monitoring data collected, only three are considered to fully reflect the requirements of Third Energy’s environmental permit;
  • Groundwater monitoring at the site has not been done correctly for the full 12 months required by statute; and
  • The data does not adequately explain the presence of high levels of methane in the nearby aquifer and whether these were linked to Third Energy’s use of a nearby well to dispose of waste water from conventional gas extraction.

The report concludes that further analysis should be conducted to find out the reason for such high levels of methane, and whether this is related in any way to the Third Energy wellsite. The report finds that it is “possible” that a well on the same site as the well known as KM8 could be a factor in the high methane levels, and concludes that “consent for hydraulic fracking should not be given until these matters are resolved”.

Guy Shrubsole, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said:  

“This report will make alarming reading for the Secretary of State – he can’t grant fracking consent when the fracking firm have not properly carried out pollution monitoring, nor explained why nearby groundwater is so polluted with methane.   

“We are constantly assured that the UK’s supposedly gold standard regulations will prevent any problems from fracking – but the industry doesn’t seem to be complying.

“It’s another reason why fracking should not go ahead in England, and we should follow Scotland’s recent example by banning it.”

Friends of the Earth is opposed to fracking because of the risks it poses to the environment, and because opening up an entirely new source of fossil fuels is not compatible with averting dangerous climate change.

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Notes to Editors

  1. The independent report analysing Third Energy’s groundwater monitoring data, commissioned by Friends of the Earth, is here: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/climate-change/review-groundwater-monitoring-data-km8-site-kirby-misperton
  2. The Secretary of State’s guidance on the conditions that must be met for Hydraulic Fracturing Consent to be granted is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/591631/Hydraulic_Fracturing_Consent_Guidance.pdf
  3. The process of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking,’ extracts gas or oil which is trapped inside rocks and won't flow freely on its own. To get the gas or oil out, the rock has to be fractured by pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals down a well at very high pressure. This fractures the rock and, when the pressure is released, the gas or oil flows back up the well.