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Ohio Utica Shale

U.K. panel says fracking risk will be low if operators are well-regulated

By Bob Downing Published: November 1, 2013

From Bloomberg News on Thursday:

By Nidaa Bakhsh

Risks to the public from shale-gas drilling are expected to be low as long as operations are well- regulated, a U.K. government-backed body said in a draft report.

"Public Health England anticipates a low risk to public health from direct releases of chemicals and radioactive material if shale gas extraction is properly operated and regulated," it said, seeking comments for the final report.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s government has proposed the world’s most generous tax system to encourage drilling of U.K. shale deposits as it seeks to cut dependence on imports, boost growth and cut consumers’ energy costs. The plans are opposed by those concerned that the hydraulic fracturing operations will contaminate water supplies, and increase traffic and noise.

Fracking blasts water, chemicals and sand underground at high pressure to break open shale rock and release trapped fuel.

"Good on-site management and appropriate regulation of all aspects of exploratory drilling, gas capture as well as the use and storage of fracking fluid is essential to minimize the risks to the environment and health," said John Harrison, director of PHE’s centre for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards. The body is a unit of the U.K. government Department of Health.

The draft noted that while there’s a lack of peer-reviewed research into the industry, well-publicized problems in the U.S. appear to be a result of inadequate operations and regulation. Such problems may not be replicated in the U.K. because of the different conditions, particularly the regulatory environment.

Borehole Leakage

"Most evidence suggests that contamination of groundwater as a result of borehole leakage is an area of concern, but that contamination of groundwater from the underground fracking process itself is unlikely," according to the draft. "However, other impacts such as spills and accidents above ground, emissions to air etc. are also potentially significant."

The report didn’t cover concerns over water extraction or sustainability, noise, traffic or visual impact from fracking.

"Low risk is not the same as no risk," Helen Rimmer, energy campaigner in Friends of the Earth, said in by e-mail. "Evidence suggests fracking has contaminated drinking water in Australia and the U.S. There’s no guaranteed it won’t happen here - especially given gaping holes in regulations."

The U.K. said in June that fields in northern England held as much as 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to meet demand for almost 50 years. Protesters in July and August held up work at Cuadrilla Resources Ltd.’s site in southern England.

"The U.K. has the most robust regulatory regime in the world for shale gas and companies will only be granted permission to frack for shale if their operations are safe," Energy Minister Michael Fallon said today in a statement.




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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.