By Ruth Hayhurst, DrillOrDrop
The shale gas company preparing to frack in North Yorkshire breached one of its environmental permits by failing to publish correct emissions data, it has emerged.
Third Energy received an official warning from the Environment Agency for the breach, which concerned air quality data at the Knapton Generating Station in the Vale of Pickering.
The company was also criticised for failing to use an agreed method to monitor groundwater quality at a nearby gas well.
The incidents were uncovered by Frack Free Ryedale, a group which has campaigned for more than three years against plans by Third Energy to frack its existing well at Kirby Misperton.
The campaign group said the incidents called into question the trust local people could have in Third Energy.
Yesterday DrillOrDrop invited the company to comment but it did not provide any response. This post will be updated with any company reply.
The Environment Agency (EA) visited the generating station on 31 January 2017. In a record of the visit, known as a Compliance Assessment Report, the EA said:
“On review of the 2016 stack emissions data at site it was evident that the monthly mean figures for the stack emissions were incorrect. Recalculation confirmed this, and the calculation error established. Reports have been resubmitted with revised figures.”
The EA said there was no evidence that Third Energy had breached the limit for emissions. But, issuing a warning, the EA added:
“Third Energy need to ensure that they have quality assurance in place on their emissions monitoring and are fully aware of the input parameters and calculations in their reporting software. There should be an auditable system in place.”
The EA recorded what is known as a level 3 breach of the permit. Level 1 is the most serious which could have a major environmental effect and level 4 the least serious with no potential environmental effect.
In the separate incident, the EA recorded that Third Energy’s contractor was not following the agreed method for monitoring groundwater boreholes at the Pickering wellsite.
While the method being used was acceptable, the EA said, it should have been approved first. Third Energy was advised to inform the EA in advance of any other differences between the permit requirements and the methodology in use.
In 2016, the EA recorded two breaches against Third Energy’s permit following a complaint to the company of a smell at the Malton wellsite. Third Energy should have reported the complaint to the EA within 24 hours but did not do so for more than two months.
In March 2017, people living in Kirby Misperton and Great and Little Barugh complained about “a sickening smell”. One home was evacuated and five people independently contacted gas suppliers, it was reported.
Third Energy said the smell was not a gas leak and was caused by routine cleaning at the Kirby Misperton well site. But a local councillor said Third Energy’s John Dewar told him the discharge was a mercaptan, a substance added to methane to give it a distinctive smell. Mr Dewar reportedly said he didn’t know the volume or duration of the discharge.
“How can the community trust this company?”
Russell Scott, of Frack Free Ryedale, said:
“After failing to inform local residents of gas leaks on multiple occasions, this company has now been caught issuing false air pollution figures. How can the local community trust this company when they repeatedly withhold information about the true picture of their activities?”
Ian Conlon, who lives in Malton, said the company had “deliberately” used a different scheme for monitoring water that had not been subject to public consultation.
“They treat our community with utter contempt then, with government backing, force fracking which is far more risky than conventional gas extraction.”
This article has been cross-posted from DrillOrDrop.