Radioactive rods to be used near St Annes homes; Fylde coast likely to experience subsidence
More shocking revelations have been revealed about the implications of fracking on the Fylde.
You may have read in the press that a radioactive rod has been ‘lost’ in the desert in Texas, by Haliburton during drilling operations. These rods are used multiple times per well during the fracking process. They use very large radioactive sources during what is known as wireline logging and, according to local engineer Mike Hill who has previously worked as a wireline engineer, they will soon be used at the Anna’s Road site, and will probably have already been used at the Singleton, Preece Hall and Banks sites.
The rod makes use of a fast-neutron source in the order of 18 Curies, which if exposed to would give you a very dangerous radiation dose in a matter of minutes. When logging is taking place the rig floor is empty – all personnel except the wireline engineer will be at a safe distance away. However, members of the general public will probably not be aware of this practice; it is certainly not advisable to be out walking your dog next to the perimeter fence when the logging is going on. Safety depends on distance and shielding, but if you were to be close to it and spent some time there without realising the source was there, then you would get very very ill and would be fortunate to survive. Logging will be happening 500 metres from the end of St. Annes Road East, a densely populated area of St Annes.
As far as RAFF is aware, Cuadrilla has never mentioned these rods at any of their presentations. We have no idea what the security arrangements are like on radioactive sources or that of the housekeeping of Weatherfords, Cuadrilla’s loggers. Losing a rod in the middle of a Texan desert is one thing; losing one in a heavily populated area like the Fylde is quite something else.
Another huge cause for concern is the likely increase in subsidence due to shale gas extraction. Again, this issue has been raised by Mike Hill, who visited the BGS (British Geological Survey) in Keyworth (Nottingham) this week, at the request of Prof. Mike Stephenson, to discuss the compaction of the shales post fracking and compressibility equations. The conclusion Mike and a colleague have come to is that the Fylde coast is at risk of sinking below sea level.
According to Mike Hill, the only way to prove or disprove the subsidence theory is to do tests on the Bowland shales in the labs at the BGS. The problem is that the BGS’s priorities are set by the government and this is not a priority, so it has not and will not be done.
Subsidence is an on-going problem for coastal areas on the Fylde. If Mike Hill is right then the problem is going to be greatly increased. In the USA, some home insurance companies are refusing to insure houses in areas where shale gas extraction is taking place. Some insurance companies a bit closer to home already add a premium to the policies of people living in St Annes because certain areas of the town are considered to be on the flood plain. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that house insurance policies will vastly increase in price very soon, that’s assuming you can get your house insured in the first place.
And if we are to experience subsidence on this scale our sea defences will have to be rebuilt. Lancashire County Council need to insist that these costs be built into the shale gas project before any production is allowed.