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Fracking pollution could cost tax payers dear say Greens

By WMNlynbarton  |  Posted: December 14, 2013


A fracking site in Blackpool

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Taxpayers could have to pick up hefty bills to clear up pollution potentially left by a controversial energy extraction technique which has been known to trigger earthquakes.

The Green Party issued the warning after the Government rejected proposals to force companies to take out risk insurance if they engage in fracking - drilling mineral gas out of rocks deep underground -

It comes as environmental campaigners in the region have stepped up their bid to block future plans which would exploit Devon and Somerset’s rich underground gas reserves.

Professor Molly Scott Cato, the lead Green Party candidate in the South West for next May’s European elections, said it was mystifying that laws which made some operators take out pollution insurance were not applied to all.

“This is a classic case of privatising the profits and socialising the risks,” she said.

“By rejecting calls for fracking companies to take out insurance against environmental disasters, the government has confirmed our suspicions that they are happy to put the public at risk while they dish out massive tax cuts to encourage the industrialisation of our countryside.

“Landfill operators already have to take out this type of insurance in case things go wrong, so why should fracking companies not be subject to this simple safeguard when they risk polluting our air and water supplies?”

Energy companies are keen to drill shale gas in some parts of the South West, encouraged by high gas prices and generous tax breaks from the government.

A licence has recently been issued to InfraStrata to drill an exploration well near Swanage in Dorset.

This week campaigners and a cross-party group of MPs argued that fracking operators should have to take out a bond to pay for potential fracking accidents.

Without this insurance the taxpayer would be at risk of paying out millions of pounds to clean up pollution and toxic waste if a company went bust.

While the government and the shale gas industry claim strict rules are in place and that residents have nothing to be worried about, the Green Party point to a number of incidents in the USA where fracking has resulted in pollution to water, air and land.

They also claim there are cleaner and greener ways to ensure energy security and reduce the costs of energy.

Prof Scott-Cato said the money encouraging shale gas drilling would be better spent elsewhere.

“Instead of tax breaks to encourage a dash for dirty gas, we should be helping local people to insulate their homes and supporting communities to generate their own clean renewable energy.

“This will protect our environment, save the average person hundreds of pounds on their energy bills and create thousands of skilled green jobs” she said.

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  • ragamala  |  December 15 2013, 9:40AM

    @JeremyBadger Your comment is way off-beam. Firstly, whilst it is perfectly true that the only fracking-related earthquakes in the US are down to injection wells rather than the fracking act itself. This was not true in the UK. It has been accepted beyond doubt that fracking at Preese Hall was responsible for the tremors experienced in April and May 2011. Secondly, you say "You can dispose of the stuff in a different well". This is based on a serious misunderstanding. This is exactly what has happened in the US! The waste injection wells are NOT the original shale gas wells, which continue in production. In the UK the use of any well for waste injection would currently not be allowed. Which brings us to the question of just HOW waste fracking fluid (maybe a million gallons per frack) would be disposed of in the UK. Nobody knows, frankly. In Lancashire the fracking waste fluid from the Preese Hall well was taken to a United Utilities processing and disposal plan at Daveyhulme. The salinity of the waste interfered with the plant's operation, and United were unwilling to take more fracking waste. Cuadrilla, in evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change that they had no idea whether there were adequate disposal facilities in the UK to handle fracking waste at production levels. Let's move on to costs. Just this week the Government's advisory committee (the independent Climate Change Committee, NOT the parliamentary select) produced figures which showed that continuing current policies was the best financial option. The government's intention to U-turn on action to tackle climate change targets would not only damage our future security by missing targets but in the longer term amount to an EXTRA cost on energy bills, some £200 billion, equivalent to around £8,000 per household. Just who are the crackpots?

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  • JeremyBadger  |  December 14 2013, 8:21PM

    In America the culprit of earthquakes near fracking sites is not now believed to be the act of drilling and fracturing the shale itself, but rather the disposal wells. Disposal wells are the final resting place for used drilling fluid. A University of Texas at Austin from study last summer found a definitive link between earthquakes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and disposal wells, It's also important to note that there a tens of thousands of disposal wells in Texas, yet only a few dozen of them are suspected of inducing quakes since the 1960s. However, if disposal is causing earthquakes are different way of disposing of it. You can dispose of the stuff in a different well, or you can even take it to a fluid treatment plant.

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  • JeremyBadger  |  December 14 2013, 8:07PM

    Crackpot "Green" policies are already costing us millions of pounds with their stupid windfarms, solar arrays and solar panel subsidies, when will we ever learn?

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  • Barri  |  December 14 2013, 3:27PM

    Two earthquakes a day in Texas during Fracking operations there. Frack-in water pollution, noise pollution and reduced property values. Should Insurance Companies and the Tax payer support this vile business ? No-brainer !

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