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CONTROVERSIAL fracking operations at a site in Lancashire have been hit by another technical problem — the latest in a series of failures to safely and successfully extract shale gas.
The company has repeatedly tried and failed to use cement as part of the sealing of “sleeves” deep underground, where a toxic mixture of chemicals, sand and water is pumped into shale layers to fracture them to release trapped gas.
The cement aims to shut the sleeves, which should be movable, after they became stuck in an open position.
The Cuadrilla site at Preston New Road outside Blackpool has been bedevilled by problems since operations began there more than two years ago.
Other problems have included the dropping of tools down a fracking well.
There have also been 57 earth tremors, some of which breached the statutory limit of 0.5 per cent on the Richter scale, bringing operations to a halt.
Cuadrilla has also been accused by campaigners of breaching agreements on night-time traffic movements.
The site is the target of a permanent protest camp occupied by local residents and environment campaigners who say fracking pollutes water supplies and the environment while industrialising the countryside.
Miranda Cox from Frack Free Lancashire said: “Residents have long suspected that Cuadrilla were experiencing some issues with the well.
“We have little confidence in Cuadrilla’s technical abilities, and this does nothing to allay residents’ very real concerns about future operations.
“It is also troubling that the Environment Agency and the Oil and Gas Authority have only last week granted final permissions to frack well two, despite Cuadrilla’s inability to successfully frack and seal this first well.”
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