A tremor measuring 2.9 on the Richter scale has been felt near the UK’s only active fracking site, less than two days after a previously record-breaking tremor at the facility.
The British Geological Survey reported a large tremor related to fracking activity hit near Blackpool at 8.30am on Monday.
The tremor comes only two days after a 2.1 scale “micro seismic event” was detected at the Cuadrilla energy site late on Saturday evening, previously the largest tremor ever recorded at the site.
That event led to operations being suspended at the site, and they had not resumed by the time of Monday’s tremor, which had a depth of two kilometres and was strong enough to be felt by some residents.
According to the British Geological Survey, this is the third tremor at the Preston New Road site in a week after a 1.55-magnitude tremor was recorded last Wednesday.
Routine policy states hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is paused for 18 hours following any tremors larger than 0.5 on the scale.
However all work on the site had been suspended following Saturday’s tremor to allow for an investigation by the Oil and Gas Authority.
The Oil and Gas Authority said: “Operations will remain suspended while the OGA gathers data from this and other recent seismic events and then considers carefully whether or not the hydraulic fracturing operations, mitigations and assumptions set out in the operator’s Hydraulic Fracture Plan continue to be appropriate to manage the risk of induced seismicity at the Preston New Road site.”
The firm said in a statement: “Cuadrilla is aware of a seismic event which occurred at about 8.30am this morning in the area of our exploration site in Preston New Road, near Blackpool.
“We can confirm that no hydraulic fracturing was being carried out at the time and no hydraulic fracturing has been carried out over the weekend. We are investigating the event alongside the regulators who monitor Preston New Road.”
Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth has called for a complete fracking ban after the three large tremors.
Spokesman Jamie Peters said: “This issue of earthquakes in connection to unwanted fracking has always been serious but now it is getting out of hand.
“It’s clearly not under control and at this point there is only one thing that can fix this situation: a ban, right now.”
According to the campaign group, residents heard a “guttural roar” as the earthquake hit.
SEISMIC ACTIVTY UPDATE: The induced seismicity event— British Geological Survey (@BritGeoSurvey) August 26, 2019
recorded at 07.30 near Blackpool today, has been revised from a magnitude of
2.6ML to 2.9ML. This was after further analysis by our seismology team on the
location of the event.
Heather Goodwin, a resident of Lytham St Anne’s near the plant said: “The walls of my house shook, there was a really deep, guttural roar. For a moment, I really thought my house was going to fall down.
“It only lasted a few seconds but I felt the need to go all round the house and check for damage. We’ve been afraid of this happening. How long before there’s real damage done and people injured?”
Cuadrilla began fracking at the Preston New Road site last year, but work has been interrupted by tremors from the site.