In the endless pursuit of energy a new form of deep drilling to release oil and gas from the subterranean depths of the earth is being used. It looks dangerous, it’s controversial and what’s more it pollutes water and soil should the chemicals escape. This technique has been used in the USA with very mixed reactions; that we now find companies in this country testing our land for natural gas should lead to a very deep-seated concern. That these companies want to drill in the beautiful landscape of the Mendips should send a shudder through any soul. Wookey Hole with its subterranean river Axe running through the caves, the reservoirs that provide water for Bristol and also the famous Bath Spa hot waters, all come under threat should there be leakage of the chemicals.
The Mendips are an archaeological and ecological rich area, early evidence of occupation in the caves and gorges can still be found in the landscape, long barrows and Bronze Age barrows can be found dotted all over the landscape. Fracking is controversial and there have been worries over what is happening at the first site in England using this method of gas drilling outside Blackpool.
It has been accused of causing earthquakes, explosions, pollution, and even making tap water flammable. Now the controversial gas extraction process known as ‘fracking’ could be coming to the Mendip Hills. An oil and gas exploration company says there are significant reserves of natural shale gas under the Mendips…
The process involves drilling a well then pumping in millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals under high pressure. The pressure fractures underground shale deposits and opens fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. For each frack, 80-300 tonnes of chemicals may be used, critics claim.
The natural gas industry does not have to disclose the chemicals used, but scientists have identified volatile organic compounds such as toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and benzene, the latter of which is a strong carcinogen.