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Assembly Member calls for suspension of shale gas test drilling in Maesteg following Blackpool earthquakes

June 1, 2011 3:47 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has said that test drilling for shale gas at the St. John's Colliery site in Maesteg should not go ahead until more is known about two earthquakes linked to similar activity near Blackpool.

He has expressed his concern following the suspension of a controversial new drilling operation for natural shale gas in Lancashire following a second earthquake in the area that may have been triggered by the process. The earthquake last Friday near Blackpool occurred at the same time that the energy company Cuadrilla Resources was injecting fluids under high pressure deep underground to deliberately blast apart the gas-bearing rock - a process known as "fracking", brought to Britain from the US, where it has been highly contentious.

Earthquake experts from the British Geological Survey said that the 1.5 magnitude quake last week was similar to a 2.3 earthquake in April in the same area and that both may be linked to the experimental fracking for shale gas at Preese Hall on the Fylde coast. Bans on commercial fracking are already in place in France as well as in New York and Pennsylvania states, where people living close to fracking sites have been filmed setting fire to tap water contaminated with methane gas.

Mr. Black said: "In my view this is serious enough to suggest that any operation in the Maesteg area should be suspended indefinitely until more is known about this process and its impact. Any possibility of contaminated water supply or seismic activity as a result of drilling is unacceptable and must be clearly dealt with before this work can begin."