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back to article Shale gas fracking ruled safe, but must stop at drop of a hat

Is shale exploration in the UK on stop or go? On Monday the Department for Energy and Climate Change released a geological report into the impact of hydraulic fracturing, a key technique in releasing gas from shale rock deep beneath the Earth's surface. But, as befits the department with the schizophrenic identity, its findings …

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0.5 M ? I can fart louder than that!

I didnt know the symbol for richters was M !

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Ru
WTF?

What else could release that much energy in one go?

I assume also that any demolition project that will generate shockwaves of equal or greater magntitude will be refused permission. Any heavy goods vehicle that crashes will result in the immediate and permanant ban of anything larger than long wheel base vans within a 200 mile radius of the incident.

And don't get me started on fireworks. The lifeboat station near where I grew up used this utterly irresponsible devices called 'maroons' to alert staff, and those things could easily generate a bang that might rattle single glazing nearby... I'm assuming in future that the RNLI will be severely reprimanded, and refused leave to do anything other than have a guy stand outside the lifeboat station and shout 'guys? time to go!'.

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It's ridiculous...

I grew up in an area of heavy coal mining (North Notts) - we lived with constant problems of subsidence, and minor ground tremors, but this was never an issue. It should still not be an issue.

I'm a fairly committed greenie - I cycle rather than drive, I recycle and all the other bollocks. I should be opposed to letting the genie out of the bottle, but I'm not - modern usage of fossil fuels are becoming cleaner, and cleaner, and let's be frank, we need this source of energy.

It's time to let experts and evidence drive decision making in this country, not the letter pages of the Grauniad, Torygraph and Daily Fail.

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Re: It's ridiculous...

Ain't that the truth, alas...

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re: It's ridiculous...

Herr Spart,

"...and requires parties to pander to the reactionary middle ground"

Translation: "they don't pander enough to raging eco-zealots, like me"

But actually, you'll find MPs do little else - and the 0.5M rule is a terrific example of that. So are ROCs, the wonderful CO2 reduction targets legislated in Climate Change Act, which passed by 463 votes to 5, and so on.

If "reactionary middle england" objects to these proposals, it may be because it's the people who are paying the bill for the cranky ideas. As the costs and benefits become apparent,

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'The British Geological Survey doesn’t record earthquakes below 2.0M, the equivalent of 1 imperial ton of TNT, considered to be the smallest quake people can feel.'

Yes it does as a visit to the British Geological Survey will show you:

http://earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk/

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Anonymous Coward

"I'm a fairly committed greenie - I cycle rather than drive, I recycle and all the other bollocks. I should be opposed to letting the genie out of the bottle, but I'm not - modern usage of fossil fuels are becoming cleaner, and cleaner, and let's be frank, we need this source of energy."

Green and you support tracking - perhaps you have not actually read what they pump into the ground (much of which does not come back up). Guess it's ok as long as it's water you are not drinking eh...?

Perhaps you should be pushing nuclear rather than burning any fossil fuels as at least it's reliable and emits no CO2.

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"Guess it's ok as long as it's water you are not drinking eh...?"

Which being several thousand feet below the water table and insulated from that by layers of impermeable rock it, er, is. Do try to lay off watching the scare-mongering bollockumentaries.....

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Anonymous Coward

bollockumentaries

I like this, I like this a lot.

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These days, I do support nuclear - I support a very broad basket of technologies, renewables, nuclear, and in some cases, properly managed fossil fuels. I'd particularly like to see renewed investment in hydro - here in Scotland we have three things in abuncance - hills, water and space. I've seen suggestions that surplus wind energy (which we do get sometimes) could be distributed to Scandinavia to power their pump storage systems, and we then buy back power from there in lulls. Erm, maybe we could use the energy here to power our own pump storage?

I've done as much research as I can on the issue of fracking, and I'm not convinced by the naysayers' arguments.

Acquifer contamination is a worry, and given the condition of the water supply services in this country, this could be an extreme worry - but again, doing as much research as I can, I'm as sure as a layman can be that any potential threat can be mitigated.

In the very near future, we're going to have a very real energy problem, and I think every avenue should be reasonably investigated, not weighed down with millstones from the very start.

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Um...

Given that you're ABOVE the water table, and the shale gas is BELOW it, wouldn't that imply that for you to get to it you have to drill THROUGH the water table? I believe that's the big concern--contaminants seeping through the drill wall at the definitely-permeable water table level.

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"The fossil fuel industry doesn't have a particularly sparkling record when it comes to accidentally spilling stuff."

Ok. I'll bite.

How many individual drilling and/or pumping units are there in operation across the globe? How many have had significant spills or leakages?

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How many?

There are more than 4,000 wells in the Marcellus shale in the US alone.

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@TeeCee: But the water burns!

He KNOWS because he's seen for himself in Gasland!

/end sarc

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Facepalm

I just can't fathom how isolated you people in the UK seem to be from the issues around fracking.

The point about not using fossil fuels is the insulating effect CO2 has for the climate. Fracking plays (sites), due the industries lax standards regarding emissions (thanks to Bush/Cheney for gutting EPA regulations for Fracking), contributes excessive amounts of Butane/Methane to the atmosphere. This puts unconventional natural gas at par with burning coal if you want to compare cleanliness.

Accidents? You think there haven't been enough?

http://earthjustice.org/features/campaigns/fracking-across-the-united-states

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/02/27/us/natural-gas-map.html

Man how blind can you get - but then the industry is very secretive about those kinds of stats and the government is on their side because of the potential tax revenues (if they're not giving huge tax breaks through other avenues).. and it's all about jobs..

So who gives shit about drinking water and eco systems. Start reading here:

http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch/#/fracking/since1851/multimedia/

The industry isn't in it for energy independence for our economies, it's only about making money for themselves and their shareholders and they are even willing and able to scam us all with bogus claims of efficiency and production potential. There's another bubble just waiting to burst...

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/us/26gas.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-big-fracking-bubble-the-scam-behind-the-gas-boom-20120301

So wake up people and get yourselves informed before you've let them F up your countryside and water resources. Future wars will not be fought over oil, there won't be any of that anyway, but over water and you are willing to take that risk and leave your health and future in the hands of the gas mafia?

http://www.globalpolicy.org/the-dark-side-of-natural-resources-st/water-in-conflict.html

But then, with all the atomic power generating plants that most of you are craving for, you could easily power desalination systems and bottle your drinking water and ship nation wide via lorries.

Duh. I though IT people and techies were intelligent and informed. Can't see any sign of that here today.

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe it's a typo?

Perhaps they meant 2.5?

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Anonymous Coward

I can't believe we are still burning coal, gas, oil and planning on doing so for the foreseeable future - we should be looking forward to newer, cleaner methods of generation. Not unreliable and expensive solar, wind, wave projects but safer and cleaner nuclear. Renewables will never make anything more than 10-20% and most still need conventional generation to back them up.

I don't like the idea of imported fuels (i.e. gas, coal, oil) - it is strategically important we have control of our own energy generation not being reliant on areas of the world at or on the verge of war or political unrest.

I also don't like the idea of fracking and pumping poisonous chemicals into the ground - the whole carbon fuel industry is expensive, costs huge numbers of lives (both in extracting the fuel, processing, transporting and then consuming). Nuclear is really the only viable option to generate electricity more cleanly and safely.

I wonder if fracking would get the go-ahead if they were doing it in some leafy home county rather than near Blackpool.

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Anonymous Coward

When I read this in the Metro on Monday (maybe Tuesday) morning....

They stated that there are beleived to be shale/gas deposits all over the UK, including Surrey, Kent and the home counties.

I'm amazed at just how long it takes some reg hacks to re-type in those Metro stories, perhaps they need a new OCR package or should get a decent news wire source.

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Re: "This is just a recommendation, however – a consultation runs until 25 May."

Another boffin who didn't read the Three Mile Island report. Loosely translated: put to many flashie light thingies and/or audible alarms and the technicians become habituated to warnings so that when an actual critical alarm goes off, no one notices because it gets translated as Situation Normal.

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Mushroom

Blackpool in danger? Oh dear...

Be honest, who the fuck would care if Blackpool slid down an enormous fracking hole and plummeted at high speed towards the Earth's molten core?

If we could throw in the resulting hole all the global warming bedwetters and the other assorted commies, even better.

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Re: Blackpool in danger? Oh dear...

A few years ago I would have said TVR owners.

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Re: Blackpool in danger? Oh dear...

Hi Breivik

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Anonymous Coward

"would care if Blackpool slid down an enormous fracking"

You would care if you had to drink the water from that area.

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>The water they drink in Blackpool comes from north Wales and the Lake district, doesn't it?

And that has it's own contamination issues.

I heard that someone ran their bath one day and found Donald Campbell in it.

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Anonymous Coward

Just checked the USGS websites and the quarry near where I lived in Cupertino from 98-00 is still generating events at the 1.3 ML on a once or twice daily basis!

When I first moved there I was surpised that everytime I checked the USGS Bay Area summary map that there seemed to have been a small "earthquake" near my house ... only when I eventually clicked through to the "more details" page on one did I see the explanation of "probable quarry blast"!

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Fracking vs well casing

It never made sense to me that methane was moving through thousands of feet of shale, but I also read that the gas industry (at least here in the US) as making a distinction between "fracking" ("safe!!!!") and the quality of the wells used to get to the case ("we're talking about the safety of fracking, that's not relevant here").

Substandard well casing would ALSO allow methane to get loose into near-surface groundwater, and requires no earthquakes at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Blackpool is where is starts - wait until they find suitable rock under your house...

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Boffin

I doubt it would be noticable. I've lived most of my life within about 5 miles of a quarry. Many people live much closer. We often hear the sirens go and then hear a slight "woomf" as the explosives go off (on a calm, still day anyway). I suspect, at the surface at least, that that would be a significantly larger "earthquake" than a far smaller explosion 3KM underground.

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Self - limiting

Just make the drillers legally liable for all damage reasonably likely to have been caused by them (with a ban on the use of lawyers to argue the toss either way - pay up within 30 days).

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The big fracking financial bubble

Buy enough speculative drilling rights based on highly leveraged debt, hype up the value of the rights with some backhanders to the relevant survey folks, sell it on to production drillers, and retire on the proceeds. When the groundwater claims don't turn out as promised and farmers get strontium, radium, manganese, 2-butoxyethanol and methane in their water supplies, the marks who bought the drilling rights go under because they can't afford the compensation out of the much smaller volumes produced than the fixed prospecting said would be produced after a well blows out, as such events will surely occur. It's all been well documented by victims who were public spirited enough not to sign the compensation NDAa, and we'd be foolish not to learn from those who were duped 2 - 3 years further down this road than we are.

Just like the well-known Enron business model for transferring money from your wallet into theirs.

There's nothing the nuclear and fracking astroturfers hate more than the rate at which wind and solar electricity prices are falling as production scales up.

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Anonymous Coward

"Which being several thousand feet below the water table and insulated from that by layers of impermeable rock it, er, is. Do try to lay off watching the scare-mongering bollockumentaries....."

Yeah well as you KNOW that for sure and it could not harm anyone and I guess they just faked the earthquake, lied about streams in the US bubbling gas you could ignite etc.

The point is - rather than fracking about we should move forward to the real future solution which is nuclear power. This gas is just going to be burned (= more CO2) to generate electricity anyway.

The end-game is nuclear as one day we will decide not to burn fossil fuels / emit so much CO2 and fracking / importing fuels is just a short term measure. IMHO we may as well move towards the final solution sooner.

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Anonymous Coward

Once this sh*t is pumped into the ground there is no way to get it back out - if it's so safe - drink it. Politicians signing off on this should first imagine it in their constituency as once it starts it will spread. If the poison they are pumping in does find it's way into drinking water or water for crops / animals then ---- it will be too late.

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Anonymous Coward

Safe for who? Safer for the company, it's shareholders and the taxes it will pay - or safe for the residents, farmers and the rest of us who may end up drinking the water or eating the crops / meat fed by potentially polluted water.

The problem is who the hell can you clean it up once you have pumped it (under pressure) into the earth. I'd recommend these MPs watch 'Gasland' and after that get some facts about what exactly is in the fracking fluid and how much (as a percentage) of what they pump down they get back?

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

"I'd recommend these MPs watch 'Gasland' and after that get some facts"

Including the faked footage?

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Flame

faked based on whose definition ?

People who create audiovisual content fake things all the time and it's called acting.

The murder scene in Macbeth isn't faking the concept of murder if murders happen. If you live on a farm which has its drinking water supply poisoned with carcinogens as well as methane, you don't really want your customers to know that, so you'll have actors recreate the scene in order to tell your true story.

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Anonymous Coward

"Including the faked footage?"

I have seen comments (mostly ones that appear to be sponsored by the petroleum industry of america) that pick at the documentary - of course - do some of the people perhaps 'exaggerate' a bit to make their case - perhaps.

It's easy to say things like 'faked footage' - are you saying there is no truth in any of it and is fracking totally safe?? No fracking way - if it were - you drink the fracking fluid or let them frack under your house.

No... didn't think so.

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Facepalm

Fracking may not be 100% safe but Gaslands is as reliable a source of information as those chemtrail 'documentaries'.

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Anonymous Coward

"I'd recommend these MPs watch 'Gasland' and.." this too, perhaps:

AC wrote: "I'd recommend these MPs watch 'Gasland' and.."

And this too, perhaps:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FrackNation

Oh too fucking lazy? Let me paste the relevant passage:

"FrackNation was inspired by a confrontation between Josh Fox, the director of the 2010 documentary Gasland, and documentary filmmaker Phelim McAleer. While Fox was promoting his film project McAleer confronted him about the historical records of people being able to ignite natural gas in water long before fracking started. McAleer told the LA Times that Fox did not include that information in his film because he did not think it was relevant."

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Shale Gas Fracking Ruled Safe

This is obviously some strange usage of the word safe that I wasn't previously aware of.

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