THE drillers claim it will create jobs and lower energy prices – but Americans say the search for shale gas has ruined their lives.
Cuadrilla Resources has set its sites on discovering rich deposits of shale rock, containing valuable gas, at three sites on the Fylde – off Grange Road, near Singleton, Preese Hall, Weeton, and Anna’s Road, Westby.
And when American campaigners discovered the drillers had got the go-ahead in the UK, they wasted no time contacting The Gazette to warn readers about the controversial hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” process used to extract the gas.
There are thousands of wells across the States – the first shale gaswell being drilled in the late 1820s, and the fracking process isn’t new – the first instance being recorded in 1947.
Patricia Carson, a retired 66-year-old from Tonawanda, near Buffalo, New York, says there are hundreds of anti-gas groups across the US claiming the fracking process has contaminated their water, causing long-term illness including cancer.
Mrs Carson, one of thousands of members of Frank Action Buffalo, and New York Gas Co-ordination Group, said: “There are hundreds of wells in America – the nearest to us is 125 miles away. But everyone in my town knows the water here has been polluted – and I’m without doubt the drilling and its aftermath killed my sister, Helen, who died 20 years ago from bone cancer, and caused all the health problems in my family.
“My nieces and nephews all take medication for thyroid problems, and my elder sister, Kathleen, has just been diagnosed with cancer.
“The wells are so noisy and there are often huge flames emanating from the surface pipes. I would warn everybody in Blackpool and the surrounding area to fight this hard.”
Riverkeeper, an environmental protection centre based in New York, has produced a report for the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
It stated there had been 20 cases of drinking water contamination in Pennsylvania, more than 30 cases of drinking water contamination in Colorado and Wyoming, and more than 10 cases of surface water spills of drilling fluid in the Marcellus Shale region – an area of intense drilling in North America.
And Dr Eric London, from Smallwood, New York, has written to the EPA claiming toxic chemicals could result in a “public health disaster”.
An award-winning documentary by Pennsylvanian Josh Fox has also stirred fear, showing water taps blazing when a match is lit.
Today, more than 28,000 gas shale wells produce 380bn cubic feet of gas yearly from five US basins in Appalachian, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, and San Juan.
Helen Slottje, a lawyer based in, New York, also contacted The Gazette to raise concerns. She said: “This drilling can cause problems with groundwater contamination, especially if there is not full casing from the top to bottom of the well.
Fracking uses five to eight million gallons of fresh water laced with toxic chemicals and sand. Some comes back up and in our area there is no way to treat this waste, and it’s dumped in the river and pollutes it.
“So I would be very wary of any drillers in the UK.”