European Parliament calls for stricter regulation

A MAJOR report compiled for the European Parliament has called for much stricter regulation of “fracking” for shale gas and oil, including a possible ban on the use of chemicals in the process.

A MAJOR report compiled for the European Parliament has called for much stricter regulation of “fracking” for shale gas and oil, including a possible ban on the use of chemicals in the process.

The 87-page report, ‘Impacts of Shale Gas and Shale Oil Extraction on the Environment and on Human Health’, provides the most detailed analysis yet carried out in Europe of the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing largely based on experience in the US. It states, “The current EU regulatory framework concerning hydraulic fracturing, which is the core element in shale gas and tight oil extraction, has a number of gaps.”

The reports suggestes “It should be assessed whether the use of toxic chemicals for injection should be banned in general. At least, all chemicals to be used should be disclosed publicly, the number of allowed chemicals should be restricted and its use should be monitored. Statistics about the injected quantities and number of projects should be collected at European level.”

The reports says, “Experience from the US shows that many accidents happen which can be harmful to the environment and to human health” due to improper handling or leaking equipment.

They also say “Regional authorities should be strengthened to ake decisions on the permission of projects which involve hydraulic fracturing.”

“Groundwater contamination by methane, in extreme cases leading to explosion of residential buildings, and potassium-chloride leading to salinisation of drinking water is reported in the vicinity of gas wells,” the report says, citing several case incidents in the USA.

In terms of the environment, the report notes that “unavoidable impacts” would include the consumption of land for drilling pads “as shale formations are developed with a high well density”, plus roads and manoeuvring areas for trucks.

The results of a study by the US Environmental Protection Agency into the risks associated with hydraulid fracturing is also due out this year.