UK ‘moving in the right direction on fracking but risks remain’

The UK is moving in the right direction on fracking. That’s according to a report by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) which looked into the risks of […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

The UK is moving in the right direction on fracking.

That’s according to a report by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) which looked into the risks of shale gas exploration in the country.

It supports the new legislation restricting hydraulic fracturing to below 1,200 metres in areas of public drinking water and protected areas for wildlife.

It also welcomes the new requirement for geological risk assessment to be carried out by an expert to protect groundwater prior to any drilling activity, it added.

However CIWEM considers there are still “significant risks” related to the management of flowback and produced water.

It added contamination of soil, surface and groundwater from spills of returned waters is a considerable hazard and could result from any negligence associated with storage, transportation and operations.

It suggests operators will have to use the best available techniques to ensure returned waters are appropriately contained, managed and treated prior to eventual disposal.

Regulators must ensure that this is being carried out and appropriately monitored, the report stated.

It also considers the political, economic and social limitations to the viability of a successful shale gas industry in the UK due to low oil prices and public opposition to shale gas projects.

It states innovation in technologies and the development of a supply chain for wastewater treatment are required to bring costs down.

CIWEM Chief Executive Terry Fuller said: “We have been pleased to observe that the UK is moving in the right direction with regulators and stakeholders working together to establish baseline studies, guidance and best practice to protect the water environment… However, this does not preclude the need for continual scrutiny and diligence by all parties as the industry gets underway.”