Britain’s only active fracking site has been hit by another tremor just two days after the largest ever quake to hit the Lancashire plant.
Seismic instruments recorded the 1.05-magnitude quake at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road facility near Blackpool at 11.22pm on Friday, which followed Wednesday’s quake that measured 1.55 on the Richter scale.
Work has to be paused at the plant for 18 hours when movements over 0.5 on the Richter scale are recorded.
A 1.05-magnitude tremor has hit Britain’s only active fracking site at Preston New Road, Lancashire. Work must now stop at the plant for 18 hours
Following the largest tremor in the area on Wednesday the MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, Cat Smith, spoke out against Cuadrilla
Cuadrilla said the tremor lasted for less than a second and ‘measured vibration at ground level during the event was approximately 0.4mm/s’.
‘This micro seismicity followed today’s pumping operations,’ it said. ‘The integrity of the well has been confirmed.’
Following Wednesday’s quake at around 8.46pm, environmental campaigners and the Labour party renewed their calls for the practice to be banned.
Fracking was also paused at the site on Wednesday evening for a minimum of 18 hours, although the company have said they expect operations not to resume until Friday at the earliest.
Today’s quake means that work will have to be paused again for 18 hours.
A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: ‘Minor movements of this level are to be expected and are way below anything that can cause harm or damage to anyone or their property.’
In response to Wednesday’s tremor, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey called for the practice to be banned, saying fracking causes air and water pollution and contributes towards climate change.
Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth claimed that in 60 days of fracking last year there were 57 tremors in Lancashire.
Jamie Peters, a campaigner for the organisation, said: ‘Even small vibrations at ground level can be the sign of far more damaging impacts deep underground.’
While Cat Smith, Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said: ‘We’ve woken up to the news there’s been an earth tremor – again. And again we have the usual spin from Cuadrilla.
‘Our council turned it down but it was forced on us by Government. We don’t want your dirty fossil fuels in our beautiful county. Pack up Cuadrilla! Lancs said no!’
It follows the largest quake recorded at the site, a 1.55-magnitude quake, which hit the area on Wednesday. (Pictured: Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road plant in Lancashire)
A resident complained of a ‘sleepless worrying night’ following the tremor (pictured, their tweet), and she called at the company on its response
Cuadrilla responded to complaints over its response, saying it’s not ‘playing it down’ and is instead ‘reassuring people about the level and impact of the movements’
Others complained about Cuadrilla’s likening of the tremor to dropping a heavy bag of shopping (pictured)
While Gina Dowding, Green Party MEP for North West, said: ‘Last night residents in area around Cuadrilla’s shale gas site experienced concern over two seismic events.
‘Tremors occurred many hours after fracking stopped and the 1.6ML event was felt. Cuadrilla likened it to “dropping a bag of shopping”.
‘Complete disregard for residents.’
And resident Tina Rothery added: ‘Sleepless restless worrying night for many here: not just those who felt earthquake but all – now aware – this can happen anytime of day or night.
‘Cuadrilla can frack in morning and seismic response can come many hours later. Cuadrilla public response, callous.’
The Government has argued that the extraction of shale gas through fracking could support the UK’s transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
The movement, recorded at 8.46pm on Wednesday, was stronger than a 1.5-magnitude tremor which halted work at the shale site in December.
Both of these are considered ‘red events’ under the traffic light system for monitoring seismic events during fracking, and pausing work for 18 hours is the routine response for any tremor over 0.5.
A number of tremors have been detected at the site since the controversial fracking operation began in October last year.
Does fracking cause earthquakes?
Earthquakes are usually caused when rock underground suddenly breaks along a fault.
This sudden release of energy causes the seismic waves that make the ground shake, and in extreme cases can even split the Earth’s crust up to its surface.
Fracking works by injecting huge volumes of water into the rocks surrounding a natural gas deposit or hydrothermal well.
The water fractures the rocks, creating dozens of cracks through which gas and heat can escape to the surface.
Fracking can cause earthquakes by introducing water to faultlines, lubricating the rocks and making them more likely to slip.
When two blocks of rock or two plates rub together, they catch on one another.
The rocks are still pushing against each other, but not moving, building pressure that is only released when the rocks break.
During the earthquake and afterward, the plates or blocks of rock start moving, and they continue to move until they get stuck again.