Eruption could have been due to sabotage

June Jackson
June Jackson
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POLICE are investigating claims a well head which burst open flooding farmland with brine was sabotaged.

Two roads had to be closed when the brine well, operated by Halite Energy, failed and burst open in Preesall in June.

A clean-up operation and technical investigation was immediately launched into the causes of the incident on Monks Lane.

Halite bosses have now handed the findings – which could point towards criminal activity – to Lancashire Police and say they will co-operate fully with their inquiry.

Brine

Dr John Roberts, chairman of Halite Energy, added: “Our detailed technical assessment has concluded that the cavern at brine well 45 is stable and the cavern roof and cavern floor are still intact and unchanged, removing concerns around any future cavern collapse or ground subsidence in the adjacent area.

“We are undertaking a full risk assessment and will update our maintenance programme to prevent any similar instances from occurring in the future, in particular in relation to the old wells that are understood to be of similar configuration to brine well 45.

“This will include reviewing all the old wellheads.

“We are also assessing the need for security fencing and signage around the wellheads to protect them and deter the public from approaching these areas.

“Work is continuing with the clean-up of the brine.”

Halite, formerly known as Canatxx, is developing plans to create up to 19 purpose built caverns in the salt field at Preesall for the storage of up to 900 million cubic metres of natural gas.

Campaigners say the accident fuels their claims exploratory procedures are environmentally unsafe and have been left ‘confused’ by sabotage claims.

Preesall resident, June Jackson, (above), said: “We have been made aware of the situation but have no detailed information.

“All we know is police are investigating claims the well head was sabotaged.

“I can’t really say much at the moment because we don’t know how or when the sabotage apparently took place.”

A Halite spokesman said: “Information came to light from our investigations into the causes of the brine well incident which we felt it right and proper to pass on to the police. As this is now a live police investigation it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”

Supt Richard Spedding of Lancashire Police said: “I can confirm the Constabulary has received an allegation that the brine wellhead at Monks Lane, Preesall may have been criminally damaged prior to the blow-out it suffered on June 18 which we have a duty to investigate.

“Inquiries will be taking place locally to ascertain whether any criminal activity has taken place which may have caused the wellhead to blow out.”