Anti-fracking campaigners have urged residents to have their say in a consultation which they warn could lead to the use of ‘corrosive and toxic chemicals’ for oil and gas extraction.
New proposals from the Environment Agency would do away with site-specific permits for many onshore oil and gas activities.
They would issue permits to oil and gas operating companies provided they promise to follow ‘standard rules’.
The consultation on the new ‘standard rules’ closes on Monday, June 15.
A Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association spokesperson said: “Tucked quietly away in Waste Management Plan WMP3-1 – a link within the proposal – is the suggestion that hydrofluoric acid (HF), one of the world’s most corrosive and toxic chemicals, should be permitted as a means of releasing oil and gas from shale.
“Even small splashes of HF on the skin can be fatal. Inhalation causes permanent lung damage. It was used in the TV series ‘Breaking Bad’ to dissolve both human bodies and metal.”
Balcombe resident Charles Metcalfe said: “Site workers and local communities should not be exposed to such risk.
“Do we want to see tankers full of this deadly substance travelling up and down our English country lanes? Statistically 1% of wells ‘blow out’. If a well containing hydrofluoric acid were to blow out, what would the consequences be?”
The Environment Agency has argued the new ‘catch-all’ permits will have a positive impact on business.
Balcombe resident Helen Savage said: “All the while our government tells us this industry has ‘the strictest regulations’, it is quietly making moves to erode protections and make way for business. The concerns of ecology and local inhabitants ‘receptors’ as we are called in this document! are most definitely a secondary consideration.”
Find the consultation online at: https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/ho/ep/src/newrules/oilandgas?pointId=1419248829504#section-1419248829504