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Cuadrilla warned by UK’s Environmental Agency

‘Urgent action’ required after shale explorer missed reporting on key chemicals

UK shale gas explorer Cuadrilla Resources has been warned by the Environmental Agency (EA) that it will have to report on missed results for key chemicals at its site in Lancashire, northern England, after it failed to do so earlier this year.

The Environment Agency ordered urgent action after monitoring at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site did not include information on five of the required substances: acrylamide, fluoride, total alkalinity, methane and carbon dioxide.

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Under its environmental permit, the company has to monitor substances in groundwater and send the results quarterly to the EA.

The agency said in a report that the results for January and February 2019 did not have data for the first months following fracking at the site, which took place from mid-October to Mid-December 2018.

The EA added that Cuadrilla did not disclose the missing data or the reason why it was missing.

“The Environment Agency understands that there was a change of groundwater monitoring contractor towards the end of 2018. We have required that an urgent review is carried out by the operator and will consider this as part of our investigation,” the EA report said.

As part of its review, Cuadrilla will have to provide details about its quality control measures on groundwater monitoring, as well as when it became aware that monitoring data was missing and what actions were taken to remedy the situation.

Once the review is received, the EA said it would consider whether Cuadrilla had breached the conditions of its permit.

Nick Mace, environmental and permits manager at Cuadrilla said that a very small number of data points recorded and reported each month “were missed out during a short period of time”.

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“The vast majority of parametres were monitored and reported compliantly,” Mace said.

“The site is the most monitored in Europe and Cuadrilla takes its environmental responsibility extremely seriously. We are confident that the data gap has been addressed, and that no environmental harm has occurred and we are working with the EA on their investigation,” he added.

Potential contamination of ground and surface water is one of the main reasons behind local opposition against fracking, according to public attitudes tracker from the UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

BEIS figures showed the proportion of people opposed to fracking increased from 35% in December 2018 to 40% in March 2019, reaching its highest point since the question was first asked in December 2013.

Only 12% of respondents said they supported fracking, while 3% were undecided, according to the latest survey.

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