No cause for alarm vow quake experts

Fracking is due to begin at the Cuadrilla gas site, Preese Hall in Weeton.
Fracking is due to begin at the Cuadrilla gas site, Preese Hall in Weeton.
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A STAGGERING 50 tremors have shook the Fylde coast due to shale gas drilling – but experts insist there is no cause for alarm.

Cuadrilla Resources this week admitted it was “highly probable” it’s work had caused two larger earthquakes which hit the area in April and May, and it has now been revealed 48 smaller tremors were also recorded.

The tremors took place when the company began “fracking” at its site in Preese Hall, Weeton, a process which has since been halted while the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) investigates.

The probe has focused on the two larger tremors – of magnitude 2.3 and magnitude 1.4 on the Richter scale – and an expert today told The Gazette the smaller tremors were not a cause for concern.

Dr Brian Baptie, a seismologist from the British Geological Survey (BGS), who have been advising the DECC, said: “They’re very small events that happened at the same time as they were injecting.

“On April 1 we had the magnitude 2.3 event and another 20 or so events in the space of a few hours, in fact in the space of 12 hours following the injection.

“It’s not strictly true to say they were all after-shocks as some came before but all were certainly smaller than the other two.

“I don’t think it’s particularly grounds for concern but it confirms what they were doing induced earthquakes.”

Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals at high speed into shale rock to release the gas it holds.

Wednesday’s report, which was commissioned by Cuadrilla in consultation with DECC, listed actions Cuadrilla could take to mitigate the risk of larger seismic events.

And Dr Baptie said he did believe it was possible for the company to lessen the risk of tremors by installing monitoring equipment and changing the way they fracked.

He added: “Clearly it’s important to remember even 2.3 magnitude earthquakes happen from time to time and are unlikely to cause any damage.

“What is more of an issue is if they are continuously injecting and causing these events at repeated intervals it clearly causes some concern for locals.”

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: “The BGS themselves described these events as ‘very very small’ – so much so that no-one reported any of these to The Gazette, BGS or to Cuadrilla and they were only detected at all by the hyper sensitive monitoring equipment put in place by Cuadrilla.”