Monday 22 July 2013

Shale and Water: The Story Continues

Now this is more like it
The water company United Utilities is in talks with shale gas explorer Cuadrilla over locations for fracking and is interested in letting the company explore on its land.
Well of course.  Instead of wittering on about potential groundwater contamination, United has spotted the fantastic potential for its primary product - and its wider portfolio of land and skills.  Home run !

And exactly what we had in mind two years ago.  Game on.



Mark Wadsworth said...

Eeeh, I tell thee, it's just giant US conglomerates carving up our countryside and I bet they won't be paying any tax either. They'll be building new houses next, mark my words. Well I won;t be burning any of their new fangled shale gas in my kitchen, I'm sticking to Town Gas me. Much cleaner it was.

visc said...

At least town gas is less radioactive than all the oh so great gas from Marcellus Shale.

But of course that couldnt happen here is some corporate stitch up while the sheep bleat on about how great shale is.

Nick Drew said...

Visc - FYI, radioactivity in nat gas is very usual: the gas from the second-largest gasfield in the North Sea (which has been producing since the late 60's) is highly radioactive and the polonium (yes, polonium !) is - of course - extracted at the processing terminal

Where it is stored ... 45 years-worth of it. Ahem.

visc said...

Nick - my understanding is not that radioactivity is per se unusual. But that with fracking (i) Marcellus Shale (MS) is more radioactive (ii) the (MS) wastewater is always contaminated and th the volume is so large (due to the process) cannot/should not be simply dumped in rivers/treatment plants and fed into the main water supply unless you want problems.- as happened in the quoted article.

Will this happen - yes it will and in such a crowded island as this the consequences cannot be ignored despite the pleading that 'everything is fine, just move along'.

Given the hysteria being whipped up in the media on how shale is the saviour of XYZ, I do not think the decisions are rational or correctly take into account or cost the adverse effects. Quite frankly I cannot beleive some of the puff pieces and Panglossian bilge that is being spouted in the MSM.

rwendland said...

ND, luckily(?) though Polonium has a half-life of 138 days, so the 45 year stock will now be lead. I think the folks that have to worry about Polonium are those that dismantle gas valves etc, as there can be a very thin Polonium film on the inside.

Radon-222 in fresh natural gas is a nusisance, but I think storing it for a few weeks solves that as it has a 3.8 day half-life (producing the Polonium metal, which hopefully settles out!).

visc said...

It's more the uranium that catches my eye

"Marcellus has particularly high levels of natural radioactivity compared to those of other shales,. It contains emissions that are 20 times higher than the typical background radiation due to high uranium content. In fact, because of this characteristic, drilling companies and geologists use radiation detection to identify the location of the Marcellus Shale deposit"

Anonymous said...

Is the radiation from the marcellus shale greater, than, say, from the luminous paint on my wristwatch? What does 'emissions that are 20 times higher than...', mean compared to my wristwatch?

rwendland said...

Anon, hopefully your luminous wristwatch is perfectly safe nowadays, so I wouldn't worry about that, nor about Radon from natural gas, North Sea or shale.

But for academic interest, there does seem to be a minuscule health impact from Radon in
natural gas. A 1973 U.S. EPA report estimated about to 5 to 15 excess lung cancer deaths per year from domestic use of natural gas.[EPA-520/1-73-004] I don't know of a more modern estimate. but extrapolating that old one to the UK indicates 1 to 4 excess deaths here. Higher Radon levels in shale gas might double or treble that, but it is still minuscule. For comparison Radon seeping into buildings from rocks below in certain parts of the UK cause about 1100 excess cancer deaths per year, so that's the one to worry about.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rwendland, not worried about radiation from my watch, neither from shale gas! Note our friend visc is not coming up with any data on comparative risk, only hints and insinuation about the 'risk' of shake gas radiation. So I think we can conclude it's negligible. God, what is it that people like that really don't like about progress that makes them come out with non-arguments that are so easily overturned... What is the actual problem with it, Visc. I would really like to know if here is a REAL problem, can't see any so far.