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Fracking

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 9th July 2018.

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Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to ensure that waste water from fracking is disposed of safely; and what is their policy towards (1) releasing waste water after treatment into a water course, and (2) injecting waste water back into the fracking well.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government supports strong regulatory controls to ensure that fracking is carried out safely. Environmental permits issued by the Environment Agency (EA) set legally binding conditions to ensure compliance with requirements for environmental protection. Hydraulic fracturing fluid that returns to the surface, known as flowback fluid, can be reused and recycled onsite if it meets environmental standards. Flowback fluid that cannot be recycled will become waste, and must be taken offsite for treatment at appropriately licensed waste water treatment facilities.

Waste water treatment facilities must have the correct environmental permits in place to receive waste flowback fluid, and must meet strict environmental standards for any discharge into receiving waters. This is similar to any other industrial effluent. The EA does not allow reinjection of waste water back into a fracking well for disposal purposes.

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