A UK fracking site has just seen its biggest earthquake yet

A fracking rig and the Cuadrilla logo
Steve Topple

A fracking site at the centre of a growing storm has now recorded 17 earthquakes nearby in just eight days. But one recorded on Friday 26 October was the most powerful yet. And it’s prompted widespread outcry.

What the frack…???

As The Canary has been reporting, between Thursday 18 and Wednesday 24 October the British Geological Survey (BGS) recorded 11 tremors near to Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire. The strongest of these, on 24 October, measured 0.5 in magnitude. This is classed as a red event on the government’s “traffic light” system for seismic activity:

Government fracking traffic light system

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But since then, there have been another seven tremors. One was the strongest so far, with a magnitude of 0.8.

Serious questions

People have been asking questions on social media.

Many questioned BGS because the recorded strength of the tremors seems to change:

The BGS said:

People also asked it about Cuadrilla’s own monitoring:

To which the BGS said:

But it also revealed:

The Canary asked Cuadrilla for comment. It directed us to an online statement, which says it will pause fracking for 18 hours. But it will start again on Saturday 27 October.

“Most concerning”

But campaign group Frack Free Lancashire is increasingly concerned. It told The Canary:

The fact that these earth tremors are increasing in intensity is most concerning. The integrity of any pipe infrastructure underground is at risk following seismicity events. We’ve now had 17.

As previously theorised by geologists, Cuadrilla seem not to know what they are working with, in relation to major and minor geographical faults. Their ‘mis-mapping’, according to Professor David Smythe, is a ‘serious geographical error’ and once again, we find our community in the midst of this being forced upon them, having to live through Cuadrilla’s experimentation phase.

This is where we see that the fracking industry virtually gets to mark their own homework, and the promised ‘gold-standard, robust regulations’ – as regularly touted by ministers who have minimal understanding of the fracking process – actually turns out to be nothing more than a gold-plated sham.

Chaos

Preston New Road is becoming the eye of the storm over frackingCuadrilla has permission to drill the site for shale gas, which has pitted it against local people. In July, the government officially gave Cuadrilla the go-ahead to start extracting shale gas. But the decision drew more protests from locals. Then, a judge jailed three activists (whom another judge promptly freed). But after a court casebad weather and protests stopped it, Cuadrilla finally began work on Monday 15 October. People met this with further protests.

With the increased frequency and intensity of earthquakes, local residents and campaigners will surely be even more certain that their opposition to this industry is correct. Be warned, Cuadrilla.

Get Involved!

– Support Frack Free Lancashire and Preston New Road Action Group.

– Read previous Canary articles on fracking.

Featured image via Clive Varley – Flickr and Cuadrilla – YouTube

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