Gas well uses same water as a golf course
Last week, a letter to the editor, "We must make B&NES a fracking-free zone", stated that the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing in the UK are unacceptable.
However, the letter did not provide any evidence to support its assertions and runs counter to the findings of the UK Government's leading scientific advisers.
The letter stated that the process of hydraulic fracturing includes millions of gallons of water which are infused with hundreds of dangerous chemicals. In reality, over a ten-year period a shale gas well requires the same amount of water as a golf course uses in one month. In addition, a typical fracturing treatment will use very low concentrations of up to 12 chemical additives, depending on the characteristics of the water and of the shale formation to be fractured, which all comply with European and national regulations.
It is also worth noting that following thousands of hydraulic fracturing operations in the United States, there has been no proven case of contamination of drinking water.
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The UK Government lifted the temporary suspension of hydraulic fracturing on December 13 2012 precisely because leading scientific experts have found that the process does not pose an unacceptable environmental risk. This followed careful analysis of detailed studies and advice from experts including the Royal Society which concluded that the "health, safety and environmental risks can be managed effectively in the UK". Separately, the Department of Energy and Climate Change's Preese Hall Review concluded there was no reason why the small risk of induced seismicity should prevent further hydraulic fracturing. The Secretary of State for Energy, Ed Davey, has also confirmed that he considers that consistent application of good practice by the industry, supplemented by the additional controls on seismic hazard that have been announced, will ensure that there will be no unacceptable damage to the environment, or threat to the health of local residents or interference with their lives.
Last week's letter also overlooked the opinion of the Environment Agency, whose principle aim as regulator is to protect and improve the environment and to promote sustainable development in England and Wales. Following a thorough assessment, the Environment Agency has stated that through "effective regulation we will help ensure that any unconventional gas operations are conducted in a way that protects people and the environment."
Shale Gas Europe recognises how important it is for industry to engage with local communities and provide information to help answer questions and concerns. We hope that Shale Gas Europe's website www.shalegas-europe.eu/en/ will be a useful resource for readers with questions about shale gas.
MÓNICA CRISTINA Adviser to Shale Gas Europe Avenue Marnix Brussels