What is fracking?
Fracking is a process for getting methane gas from shale rock that lies hundreds of metres underground. The procedure is to drill down to the shale rock at a depth of about 3,000 metres and then to drill horizontally. Water, sand and toxic chemicals are then pumped down the well under very high pressure to fracture the shale and release the gas trapped inside.
Fracking involves the use of industrial pumps at each site, which are extremely noisy. Each operating site works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, under bright lights at night, causing extreme noise, light and air pollution.
Each fracking site creates millions of gallons of contaminated water, which has to be to disposed of. Where? One solution is to pump it back down a disused well. Our drinking water (which for much of Strensall comes from underground sources near Castle Howard) could become contaminated if one of the wells leaks, as they are likely to do over time. It is estimated that one in four wells will leak within five years, and 50% of all wells will leak within 15 years.
Also, where does this water come from in the first place? From our water supply! So there is less water for our normal domestic and agricultural needs.
The drill sites will need to be serviced by road, and each well requires up to 4,000 HGV journeys to bring in water and chemicals to supply the pumps at each drill site. Local residents could see over 50 noisy trucks pass by their homes every single day. Including Sundays. For years on end.
If that's not bad enough, there is the health issue. A recent official report from the USA on the fracking industry has identified at least 59 chemicals in the air or the waste water that are dangerous to human health or the environment, including arsenic, benzene, lead and radioactive materials. Many of these are known carcinogens. Breast Cancer UK has also called for a moratorium on fracking and has expressed strong concerns about the potentially adverse health effects of increased exposure to harmful chemicals as a result of fracking.
And what might it do to our homes? Fracking has been known to cause earthquakes in some areas – remember the earthquake near Blackpool caused by the fracking company Cuadrilla a few years ago – and insurance companies have already revealed that damage to property as a result of fracking subsidence would not be compensated.
It is also likely that property would lose value - who wants to live near a fracking site?
So, all in all, it doesn't sound too appealing.
And what will happen to the gas they extract? Contrary to the arguments often made in favour of fracking, it probably won't be used to heat our homes or generate our electricity. INEOS currently import vast quantities of shale gas by ship from the USA, into their Grangemouth refinery, where they use it to make plastics and fertilisers. On their own website they say that "INEOS is one of very few businesses that can use shale gas as both a fuel and a feedstock" - so it is likely that any shale gas extracted by INEOS will be used to replace the stuff they currently import. Lower costs for INEOS, and a wrecked countryside for us
For more information on the issues raised above, have a look at our Links page
Who are INEOS?
INEOS are a privately owned petrochemicals company, with facilities in 16 countries, employing 15000 people. The majority of the company belongs to Jim Ratcliffe, born in Lancashire, and who went to Beverley Grammar School. He is said to be worth about £21 billion, currently the richest man in the UK.
Sadly, INEOS do not have the best reputation for safety. A few examples include a spill of caustic soda into the Manchester Ship Canal in March 2016; a hydrogen cyanide leak in Port Lavaca, Texas, which led to the death of a worker in 2015; a spill of the highly toxic chemical acetone cyanohydrin from a Texan facility, which killed thousands of fish in 2009; and a leak of ethylene gas from their Grangemouth complex, which caused local roads to be closed and school children kept inside.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Jim Ratcliffe says “The chemical industry is extremely good at managing environmental issues and safety issues, but it is not perfect. It is like a puncture in your car – occasionally you get a puncture, and occasionally we have an accident in chemicals.”
So, do you want this man's company to start work near Strensall?