Sixteen thousand gallons of Hydrochloric Acid scheduled for Balcombe

Cuadrilla plan to inject the equivalent of nearly 80,000 bottles of Bonnymans Patio Cleaner underneath Balcombe village

A recent presentation by the owner of UK fracker Cuadrilla reveals the company plans to inject tens of thousands of gallons of Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) into its frack sites in the UK.

The presentation – by AJ Lucas, 42% owner of Cuadrilla – reveal that Balcombe can expect sixteen thousand gallons of HCl to be pumped 800m under the village. Hydrochloric acid is typically used neat – its main function is to clean the tiny spaces between subsurface rocks at the start of the fracking process.

The presentation shows that of the fluids Cuadrilla intend to inject underground, 0.125% will be HCl (see p 21 of the presentation). A typical well uses 12.8 million gallons of fluids (based on 1.6 million gallons per frack and 8 fracks per site). For Balcombe this would mean a total of 16,000 gallons of pure hydrochloric acid forced into the ground.

The company likes to maintain that the fracking fluids it uses are found in everyday products.

What this obscures is the sheer quantity of chemicals used, usually without dilution.

Hydrochloric acid is indeed used in some household cleaning products. Yet a small city would be required to consume the same amount used by one frack site. The amount of HCl planned for release under Balcombe, for example, would top 80,000 bottles of Bonnyman’s Patio Cleaner  (based on 5 litres per bottle, composed of 28% HCl, total 16,000 gallons).

Similarly the company plans to use a second chemical: polyacrylamide. Polyacrylamide is found in – amongst other things – shampoo. Yet even if polyacrylamide were the only constituent in shampoo, this would also equate to 80,000  bottles of shampoo under the village (8000 gallons of polyacrylamide, ten bottles of shampoo per gallon).

While this cornucopia of subsurface consumer goods provides an almost comical example of the process of hydraulic fracturing, the reality is more stark. The water usage planned for Balcombe equates to more than 12m gallons – or more than 24 Olympic swimming pools.  At  a time of water shortage both the pollution of underground sources and the asset stripping of surface water is highly irresponsible.

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46 Responses to Sixteen thousand gallons of Hydrochloric Acid scheduled for Balcombe

  1. Pingback: ‘When Frackers Come Calling’: Homeowners Increasingly Duped in Land Deals | Street Democracy - where it should reach

  2. susannah sindall says:

    can you get a facebook link up on this site? im trying to spread the news here in Ireland

  3. A pint, sixteen thousand gallons, a million gallons… you say it is going down 800m – what practical difference does the quantity make? Or is it just big numbers looking scary?

    You also make reference to pollution of water – of which there is not a single proven case… even Caroline Lucas backed off that on the radio this morning.

    For people who aren’t scared by big numbers – what have you got on fracking that we should be scared of?

  4. iris ryder says:

    The Soft Machine acts like a font of all knowledge. So some readers could actually believe it.
    It’s just a pity that the soft machine is let down by the construction of simple grammar.
    Learn the difference between “Your” and “you are” before you try and blind people with scientific smokescreens. I learnt how to use English well before I studied for my BSc(Hon’s).
    You are all for the decimation of the English countryside – but are you even from England????
    - AND STOP THE SWEARING! IT’S NOT BIG AND ITS NOT CLEVER….

    • adream608 says:

      Hi Iris,

      sorry about my grammar, I did indeed use you’re instead of your… a simple mistake

      However my grammatical error does not detract from the simple fact that if you pump Hydrochloric acid into micritic Limestone then you just neutralise the acid entirely
      CaCO3 + 2HCl —> CaCl2 + CO2 + H2O
      Hydrochloric acid + calcium carbonate —-> calcium chloride + carbon dioxide + water.

      Whether or not I am English is not actually relevant is it ? But just in case it is then yes I am English, in fact i was brought up in Balcombe, and some of my family are still in Balcombe.

      The simple chemical formula above is not my work, it is common scientific knowledge so please don’t shoot the messenger.
      Your request about swearing is possibly a mistake, as far as I know I don’t believe I have used profanity here (apart from using the word Tory!).

      I’m not “all for the decimation of the countryside”, however I would point out that the countryside around Balcombe has been fairly intensively exploited and shaped by man for thousands of years, Farming, Iron mining and production, a massive D-day military camp, the destruction of the valley to build the reservoir in the 70′s etc.
      I was a resident in 1986 when Conoco drilled the original well, and to be honest most of the village, if they were interested were pretty impressed that such a potentially important industry was occurring in the village.

  5. Simon Turner says:

    In my experience, even if individuals chemicals at certain dilutions are considered ‘safe enough’ mixing a multitude of such chemicals together produces unpredictable results. Almost a case of the sum is greater than the whole.

  6. jan says:

    Water carries the memory of everything it has held !!!

  7. The Soft Machine says:

    if you pump Hydrochloric acid into micritic Limestone (as is the case at Balcombe) the acid is neutralised and the products are pretty harmless, I don’t see the problem here at all.

    Also before you start talking about “Neat” Acids perhaps you should research how acid concentrations are quantified.

    • enfield says:

      Jog on you Tory pig.

      • The Soft Machine says:

        I’m no Tory, I hate the conservatives, especially their attack on the poor and vulnerable in the UK….
        All I am pointing out is that if you pump Hydrochloric acid into micritic Limestone then you just neutralise the acid entirely
        CaCO3 + 2HCl —> CaCl2 + CO2 + H2O
        Hydrochloric acid + calcium carbonate —-> calcium chloride + carbon dioxide + water.
        I don’t see why that’s so annoying :-)
        love you too :-)

    • enfield says:

      Well pardon me but you are unaware of the years I have spent arguing rationally, I have moved on because the truth doesn’t matter when there are Tories like you around. No problem because the acid is neutralised? You halfwit Tory pig. Do you know what the acid does to limestone? Look into it then come back.

      • Adrian Taylor says:

        it dissolves it

      • Bob Winslow says:

        Enfield you are why people ingore nature activists you tw@

        • Enfield says:

          Nature activists are generally idiots you cunt, that’s why people ignore them.

          • The Soft Machine says:

            You’re use of profanities betrays you…. if you use the c word then no one listens to you even if you do have anything important to say :-)

        • Enfield says:

          Wait a minute, I just realised how little sense your comment makes, who are you? What do you stand for? What do you think I stand for? Do you have trouble reading?

      • The Soft Machine says:

        The acid dissolves the limestone

        • Enfield says:

          I don’t give a fuck what Tory cunts think, don’t you understand? The time for talking is over, it is time for action and anger.

          • The Soft Machine says:

            your adherence to political dogma is preventing you from acknowledging scientific fact. So any logical discussion is impossible. Delusional firebrands like yourself would have found a great ideological home with the Khmer Rouge etc.
            When I found this interesting site, I avoided posting because I didn’t want to be accused of being a troll, but you have out done me by a mile :-)

        • Enfield says:

          Tory Scum.

  8. Arthur Jones says:

    when u deal with a tyrant national force whose rules is divide conquer oppress and plunder is easy for them to beat them we must use same tactic upon them

  9. Steven Blake says:

    Isn’t the there a clue in the fact that what took billions of years to accumulate has been used up, all bar the dregs, in such a short time. It will soon all be gone and we will be left with the options we should be investing in NOW. There are millions of square miles of sun drenched soil, Africa alone could provide the world’s need for electric and solve their famine problems, they could be sending money to us!. The moon moves billions of tons of water daily, a massive supply of energy to tap into. Then there is wind power, surely a combination of these three could supply need or even greed. Every home could be energy self efficient and we could cut the population by having fewer children.

    Save these difficult to get at supplies as EMERGENCY deposits for future centuries when We might just want to deliberately mess up the atmosphere to stave off an ice age! Not so sure this is a political conspiracy I think that rates MP’s far brighter than they behave, I’m pretty sure it’s just greed, complacency and ego.

    • marie1797 says:

      Well said, and common sense. I agree that we should harness the elements sun, wind, and water to produce our energy, we have the technology now to do it. We should be careful with our drinking water as once that is poisoned there is no going back.

  10. DavidM says:

    Moleshaped tunnel machines will burrow down and mop up the nasties with giant jcloths…yeah, right…

  11. Peter Such says:

    This is a clear statement that this country is in a worse state of economy and energy resources than has already been admitted. Government must present a clearly detailed balance sheet of precisely what our position is and options are.

    • enfield says:

      That’s a trick, they simply want more back handers they know their days are numbered so they have to bang it all through quickly, the same as the destruction, demonisation and selling off our NHS. Don’t forget, they’re only in power because of the Lib Dems. Labour & UKIP are exactly the same, Greens are the only real option.

    • The Soft Machine says:

      Hydrochloric acid, is indeed hazardous when being transported, however once it comes into contact with the limestone at balcombe then it is neutralised:
      Hydrochloric acid + calcium carbonate —-> calcium chloride + carbon dioxide + water.
      or
      CaCO3 + 2HCl —> CaCl2 + CO2 + H2O

      all of which is pretty harmless

    • The Soft Machine says:

      Most of these chemicals will not be used in the UK for fracking, and at Balcombe virtually none of them (about 6)

    • The Soft Machine says:

      This has no relation to what is going on in balcombe, it is result poor regulation and poor administration in the states

  12. Pingback: Hydraulic fracturing on trial – live updates | Frack Off

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  15. Reblogged this on patricktsudlow and commented:
    With all the evidence from the USA and Australia, you would of thought our politicians would have banned this nonsense. But no, they believe this will be the answer to or energy insecurity, business as usual. This will result in a massive environmental catastrophe which will not be possible to remedy.

  16. Spidergran says:

    What is also worrying about ‘additives’, as the EA carefully words it, the government requests that as much as possible is recycled. A waste-water treatment plan does not exist.

    • Correctoman says:

      Hi Spidergran,

      There are specialist waste water reprocessing companies that will be used to clean the water recovered.

      • Spidergran says:

        With all respect, Correctoman, you make it sound AS IF there is a plan in place The Commons report makes it clear that such a solution is as yet mooted and MPs hope something suitable WILL BE devised. The drillers’ profit motive ensures that waste-water treatment will aim at the lowest possible standard, usually associated with lowest possible costs. For at the root of the issue is MONEY; everyone involved in the industry wins a pound of flesh: the government, supportive MPs and their footsoldiers in the EA, drillers and their shareholders. Every resident having fracking forced on them loses three times over: once for the threat to their particular environment, once for the cumulative threat of 100s of wells up and down the country, and once for being utterly let down by a government that cares not a jot about a greener future or the safety of citizens. Please correct your own vision.

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