Fracking halted again following another seismic tremor

Just a week after resuming operations for the first time since December, Cuadrilla’s hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has caused another limit-exceeding seismic tremor. Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking had been shut down in December following a similar tremor that had exceeded the legal limit of 0.5 on the Richter scale. The recent tremor is the largest ever recorded at the Preston New Road site, measuring at 1.55 on the Richter scale.

This news comes soon after Cuadrilla requested more time to continue fracking operations past the contracted closure date in November, reported on here. This request was due to the frequent shut downs of the site, while safety inspections were conducted due to the seismic tremors resulting from fracking that surpassed the limit. It also comes at a time when environmental activism groups are expressing concern regarding a statement from the Government that indicated support for Cuadrilla and a reconsideration of the Government’s position on fracking, reported on here.

While Cuadrilla has addressed this event as a “microseismic event” comparable to dropping a heavy object on the floor, a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth said that even relatively small seismic events like this one can be a signal of worse damage underground. As the Government reconsiders its position on the matter, activists worry that limits will be raised, to allow fracking operations to continue with less frequent interruption. The Government and Cuadrilla have both supported fracking, explaining the value of domestically sourced gas and oil production to the national energy grid as well as jobs and infrastructure. However, a recent report from the British Geological Survey and the University of Nottingham (reported on here) has suggested that current estimates of the amounts of shale reserves in the UK are inaccurate and that the real figures are five times lower than promised by the Government and energy firms. Cuadrilla has rejected this study, claiming that real figures can only be determined by studying fracking as it happens.

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