As our regular readers will already know, we are extremely interested in Fracking here at Love Energy Savings. Whether it is to be the saviour of our energy independence or the scourge of the British countryside and a potential disaster, the jury is most definitely still out.
The latest debate to emerge following some rather concerning reports from America, is whether or not its implementation could have an adverse effect on our drinking water.
Indeed, a Texan man has successfully sued a gas company in the USA after his drinking water was set alight following contamination resulting from fracking work going on in the area. Texas is one of the most significant shale gas drilling areas in the states and this kind of occurrence is becoming more and more frequent. If you’re not sure whether to believe that this has taken place, you can see a pretty interesting YouTube video which shows that you can indeed set fire to water in America which has been contaminated with natural gas as a result of fracking.
So, are we in danger of suffering the same here in the United Kingdom, especially as fracking looks like becoming more and more of a reality following governmental support? The risk of this methane being released into our water has always been one of the most contentious issues surrounding fracking and shale gas drilling.
Report from Environment Agency and British Geological Survey
A recent report has suggested that there may well be a methane risk to the future of our drinking water, particularly if you live the north west of England.
The report was undertaken by The British Geological Survey in conjunction with the Environment Agency and they mapped when the fundamental aquifiers in the UK coincided with the locations of shale gas. This happens to be the case with as much as half of the areas where there are natural stores of H20.
The study has confirmed fears that the layers of rock which would be drilled for shale gas should fracking be implemented on a widespread basis are indeed to close to the aquifiers for water to remain clean and healthy. As a case in point, the Bowland Shale in the north of England (which was just the first of the sites to be investigated) has discovered to be situated below no less than six key aquifiers.
Although the majority of the rock formation is at least 800m below the water bearing rocks, this is deemed to be too close for comfort, especially given what has been occurring in the United States in the years since fracking has been adopted as an energy solution. Industry figures are of course maintain that this distance is enough to guarantee that there will be no such contamination, but their incentive for taking this stance is obvious.
Wells are to be sealed with concrete and metal which should of course mean that this situations should not occur, but this is also the case in the US and it hasn’t prevented mishaps. There are also a multitude of other things which could go wrong and cause huge problems for the environment and ultimately, public health.
Aquifiers Too Close to Water Supplies
This is of course, just the case of one shale gas site. Others such as the Weald Basin in the south of England are much close to the aquifiers which would pose a whole other set of environmental issues.
If you would like to learn more about the distance between shale gas layers and the aquifiers in use, you can take a look at a fantastic interactive map which has been published by the British Geological Survey.
The Environment Agency has officially confirmed that no fracking developments will be allowed to proceed if they are too close to drinking water supplies. This said, no actual limit has been set for what ‘too close’ actually looks like. Figures of around 400 metres have been bandied around but these are far from definitive and little more than rumour. Indeed, in some areas the shale layers will rise closer to the surface whereas others wouldn’t, so there is not really a one size fits all approach for the situation.
No Such Investigations in the US
On a positive note, these investigations never took place in the USA which is much of the reason for the horror stories that have emerged regarding fiery drinking water. This should ensure that this will not happen here in the United Kingdom but the risks will always be there. Should the government and energy suppliers be messing with our drinking water in order to generate more gas or should they take a different approach, it is yet another angle to the fracking debate which is surely likely to rumble on for years to come. However, with its implementation getting nearer and nearer to fruition – is it too late for our drinking water to be saved, time will only tell.
Love Energy Savings has always and will always look to be an impartial voice when it comes to any aspect of the energy sector, as such you may well have come across energy articles voicing support for the drilling of shale gas. There are clearly benefits, but scenarios such as the one in this article are surely concerning and cannot be ignored.
What are your thoughts regarding the fracking debacle? Do you think it is a necessary evil as we look for alternative energy sources, or should it be avoided at all costs? Have your say in the comments below and have your say and do not hesitate to get in touch with the Love Energy Savings team if you have any questions at all regarding your energy supply.