Gas firm claims sabotage over eruption

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THE company behind plans for a controversial gas storage scheme has admitted complications deep below ground caused a recent eruption.

But Halite Energy still believe the well head in Over Wyre which burst open flooding farmland with brine was sabotaged.

Halite bosses have released a long awaited technical report into the brine well blast in Preesall in June.

The report states a CCTV inspection at 190m depth revealed a short section of casing had been “severely distorted” which could have happened during installation more than a century ago to provide ICI a feedstock for their former Hillhouse chemical plant.

But the company, which issued its statement after police said there was “no verifiable evidence” of sabotage, say forensic experts found evidence of tampering being a cause of damage.

Chief executive of Halite, Keith Budinger, said: “The primary cause of the incident has been identified as ruptured casing at depth, which was most likely damaged during installation.

“However, this in itself would not have caused the incident.

“Forensic experts identified information which was consistent with third party interference being a cause of damage at the wellhead.”

Mr Budinger added: “It is not possible to share further details of the evidence publicly as, should further information come to light, the police investigations will be re-opened.”

Halite has stepped up security on its Preesall site following allegations of sabotage.

The company is expected to submit an application for consent to develop the storage facility to the Infrastructure Planning Commission in the coming weeks.

But enraged residents are demanding the police release the evidence which led to an investigation.

Ian Mulroy, of the Protect Wyre Group, said: “As it was some weeks following the incident before the police were involved, was it a smokescreen to give the company more time to come up with an excuse as to why the incident occurred?

“We will submit an FOI request to the police to find out exactly why an investigation was opened and how many man hours were spent and money wasted on it.”