New study shows fractures within 720 feet of Balcombe village

A new report from Durham University shows fractures from fracking operations could extend to within 720 feet of the surface at Balcombe. The report concludes maximum fracture lengths at US frack sites is 588m, or 1928 feet.

Cuadrilla plans to drill at 2667 feet in Balcombe – a maximum fracture, therefore, would bring frack fluid to within two football pitches of the surface – and right through the water supply.

In November Cuadrilla admitted that faults such as the one that caused earthquakes in Lancashire may extend 2000 ft upwards (see p50 of linked pdf). Were the company to hit a similar structure in Balcombe this would bring fluids and gas even closer to the surface than man-made fractures. The fault that caused the earthquakes in Lancashire remains unidentified, despite two studies.

The report provides yet more evidence that fractures can extend close to the surface. In a ‘shallow frack’ such as Balcombe, the risks of fluid and gas migration are high. In their submission to parliament last year, Cuadrilla claimed fracking takes place at 5000 feet below the surface (see 6.3.11). No mention was made of Balcombe, which is scheduled to be be fracked at nearly half that depth.

Durham’s study undermines those who claim that Balcombe’s unique geology makes it exempt from comparisons with other frack sites. In fact every frack site is unique: this new study is important because it shows fracture lengths averaged across many different types of terrain.

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2 Responses to New study shows fractures within 720 feet of Balcombe village

  1. Pingback: Radioactive Water Streaming Out of Pennsylvania Fracking Waste Site | Street Democracy - where it should reach

  2. Frances Hunt says:

    Given the powers that be – described on this site – reasonable argument has no chance of delaying the potential profits, at least until the next election. Non-violent demonstration: – who knows, but this can always be held off until it is all too late.
    So I have a simple question for Caudrilla and supporters: how much should be set aside in financial planning to cover early claims against Fracking operations – never mind when the environment is depradated and left unrestored. Potentially & off the top of my head, I invite additional ideas:
    Restriction in local water supplies, additional traffic & road damage beyond that forecast; unpleasant odours; chemical spills; chemical leaking; loss of organic status to farms; damage to property (by traffic or frack); loss of property value; poisoning of domestic animals drinking from watercourses; disruption of natural habitats by gas or contaminated water leaks; loss of profit to farmers due to affected animals; loss of crops due to leaking gases & chemical fumes, unidentified illnesses birth defects fertility problems; asthma & other auto-immune diseases, damage to gardens & allotments, leaching of chemicals to watercourses and eventually the coast; loss of protected habitats; damage to the National Park; insufficient research on soil and rock formations; failure to disclose; health & safety breaches; breaches of license; ….
    No, someone will say, none of these will succeed in law. That is irrelevant, you will be made to defend against them. Have you done homework on how many judges & lawyers live around this area whose amenities could well be affected? Do you know how fast property values can sway opinion in this area – well-funded properties. Most good burghers in the south-east probably do care more about keeping the lights on than they care about the planet, but this is not the US, we live close together and densely packed, you will not be able to hide the results of your work because there was a population without leverage or resources.

    Fundamentally this whole operation stinks, so does the energy policy due to be announced next week but widely trailed. We cannot go on burning fossil fuels at present rate however it is mined, we cannot fund new nuclear, CCS is a pipedream. Germany, Japan, even Saudi Arabia are going for renewables in a big way. This govmt has grabbed at fracking as an answer to their neglect for energy provision, but it is highly polluting in itself, and the burning of methane is 20 times worse for climate change than natural gas. But this is a larger argument that has not even been put on the table here.

    Frances Hunt

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